Hello, everyone! After visiting Taza Chocolate in Somerville, MA, I came home with a lot of new chocolates to play with. A chocolate and cheese pairing seemed like the most appropriate way to go, so this week, I’m bringing you a California cheese and Taza chocolate pairing, a sort of “East Coast Meets West Coast” tasting session. M. Cheesemonger got to choose all of the cheeses this time: Andante Dairy’s Mélange and Tomme Dolce, Cypress Grove Chèvre’s goat gouda Midnight Moon, and Marin French Cheese’s Brie. I had some boxes of 34 Degrees crisps to serve as a cheese and chocolate vehicle (or as I like to call them, “ice cream cones for cheese,” owing to their light, crisp bite). Here’s what we thought tasted best when paired together!
I found that the best way to taste both the chocolate and cheese was to put the chocolate in my mouth first, break it down by chewing it a bit, then pop some cheese in. When both were in my mouth, I liked to exhale strongly through my nose while chewing to better taste everything. Give it a try!
Marin French Brie & Taza Chocolate’s 80% Stone Ground Bar
The Cheese: This local cheese has a creamy texture and full mouthfeel, with a slightly earthy flavor. The rind is fluffy and ever so slightly funky, although on the whole, this is a great mild cheese for cheese novices.
The Chocolate: The 80% stone ground bar, sourced from the Dominican Republic, has the characteristic grit of Taza Chocolates, which gives it a great bursting mouthfeel. Flavorwise, it’s like earth, coffee, and vanilla all rolled into one.
Together: I loved how the chocolate’s gritty texture complemented the cheese’s smoothness. The earthy flavors in each food complemented each other gorgeously. It was the first pairing I found of the tasting, and it might be my favorite.
Cypress Grove Midnight Moon & Taza Chocolate’s 95% Wicked Dark Bar
The Cheese: I have always thought of Midnight Moon as a candy bar of the cheese world. It has a sweet, caramel flavor, and beautiful silky texture punctuated by small protein crystals.
The Chocolate: This bar, made of beans sourced from the Dominican Republic, tastes like dark berries with minimal bitterness.
Together: The cheese mellows out the chocolate a lot, smoothing out any bitterness that one may sense. They melded together beautifully, bringing out a surprising depth to the cheese, and extending its finish.
Andante Dairy’s Tomme Dolce & Taza Chocolate’s Raspberry Nib Crunch
The Cheese: Tomme Dolce was one of the first cheeses I ever sold, so it holds a special place in my heart. It is an aged goat’s milk cheese that’s been washed with plum conserve and brandy. I taste plums, raspberries, and walnuts in this cheese, and find it marvelously approachable.
The Chocolate: I opted for a little flavor kick with Taza’s Raspberry Nib Cruch chocolate bar. The nibs added some extra texture, while the slight raspberry flavor added another fruity dimension to the flavor.
Together: It felt like a dessert cheese pairing. The cheese’s and chocolate’s berry notes each complemented each other without overwhelming the other. The chocolate’s slight grainy texture seemed to stretch out the cheese’s finish for days. It was almost like eating a raspberry cheesecake.
Andante Dairy’s Mélange & Taza Chocolate’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Disc
The Cheese: Mélange is just that—a mix of goat and cow’s milk, roughly ½ and ½. It is a rather delicate cheese, with a thin rind and soft paste. I love cheeses with this kind of flavor—lactic, with a crème fraîche tang at the finish.
The Chocolate: The chocolate in Taza’s Mexicano discs are stone milled only twice, so that a lot of the nibs’ granular texture shines through. The coffee beans used are roasted by California’s Counter Culture Coffee to Taza’s unique specifications.
Together: I really loved this pairing! The coffee’s delicate flavors shone through, while the cheese’s tanginess mellowed out. With the cheese’s lush, creamy texture, the ensemble felt like coffee ice cream. I would serve this as dessert or a snack.
If you want more pairing ideas, see this French cheese and jam pairing session!
Thank you, Taza Chocolate and 34 Degrees, for providing samples for today’s blog post! I purchased everything else on my own.