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Home > Sunday Mid Day News > Is India ready to pair artisanal cheese with craft chocolate Experts dwell on the flavours

Is India ready to pair artisanal cheese with craft chocolate? Experts dwell on the flavours

Updated on: 07 July,2023 08:03 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nidhi Lodaya |

It’s the coming together of the best of both worlds, but is the Indian palate ready for it?

Is India ready to pair artisanal cheese with craft chocolate? Experts dwell on the flavours


We love cheese just as much as we adore chocolate but having it together, as a paired delicacy was a first for this writer. At the artisanal cheese and craft chocolate workshop conducted by Patricia Cosma, a bean-to-bar chocolate connoisseur and co-founder of the festival and Namrata Sundaresan, founder of Käse cheese, an artisan cheese brand from Chennai, we tried several unusual combinations. The fierce bitterness of dark chocolate, cut by the sharp saltiness of the cheese is intriguing. 

Cosma agrees—the chocolate and cheese pairing is not as common as pairing chocolate with alcohol (beer, wine and even whiskey) or wine with cheese. She has been doing these pairings for the last four years, “more like playing with the ingredients and seeing what comes out of it,” she tells mid-day. 

Pics/Atul kamblePics/Atul Kamble

Sundaresan thinks that Indians have not been exposed to chocolate and cheese pairings because “dark chocolate and craft cheese is a relatively new development in the industry. The artisanal cheese and chocolate industry caters to a niche audience that is well-travelled and comprehends the lexicon of cheese and chocolate, and has always shopped abroad. It was only during the pandemic that people started looking at more homegrown brands to source their artisanal cheese and chocolate needs,” she adds. 

Speaking about the sweet and salty blend, Cosma says, “They create the perfect balance for a tasting experience, that satisfies both sweet and savoury cravings at the same time. This balance of flavours that comes from a pairing can be more gratifying to the palate than savouring the ingredients individually. Like salt, even a tinge of it, can accentuate the sweetness and brighten up flavours of chocolate.” 

Namrata Sundaresan and Patricia Cosma
Namrata Sundaresan and Patricia Cosma

Sundaresan explains, “Cacao and milk both start as distinct products, go through fermentation and then turn out to be completely different. It’s the fermentation that adds flavour and aroma to the nose and the palate, making it an experience to savour. The fats and protein in the cheese coat the palate in a way that helps discern more of the wine or chocolate that it is paired with.”

She believes the basics of pairing involve bringing together flavours that are not conflicting, but complement each other. Like 50 per cent milk chocolate with lavender cheese where the lavender lingers on the palate for a long time and becomes prominent. Another favourite is the cardamom, rose and pistachio chocolate with sheep milk cheese. Dark chocolate and blue cheese are a good combination and 50 per cent milk chocolate with fruits would go great with mild, creamy goat cheese. 

Cosma, on the other hand, thinks combining a darker percentage of chocolate with a fresher or milder cheese is a better idea. “A bar of 70 per cent or higher cocoa which has intense, dark flavour can’t  be paired with cheese with very intense flavours because the two would overpower each other,” she explains. 

What’s a good time to have this pairing, we ask. Cosma says, “I prefer to have it first thing in the morning because the palate is clean and has not been affected by spicy or hot flavours that could influence the tasting experience, but if you are having it after a meal, it’s a good substitute for dessert after a light dinner because this is very filling and intense. An ideal pairing portion should be less than 5 gm of chocolate so that it can melt and blend with the cheese.”

Adding flavours to the cheese or chocolate increases the complexity of the pairing as well. Sundaresan feels, unlike abroad where most chocolates are either plain bars or nuts and sea salt, Indians don’t shy away from “crazy infusions such as chocolate with paan, cardamom, rose, pistachio, lemon, moringa, and pepper among others. We are open to bold flavours. As a cheese maker, that makes it more interesting if I have to pair cheese with lavender, rose, cumin or thyme. Challenging, but a good job of pairing makes it interesting.” 

Patricia Cosma’s perfect pair 

.  Use good quality craft chocolate and artisanal cheese for pairings. Only speciality products have a complex flavour profile that can create a wholesome tasting experience.

.  Use your taste buds to create balanced pairings. Taste the chocolate and cheese separately before deciding on your pairings. Cleanse your palate (preferably with water) after each tasting.

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