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There’s only one thing I love more than eating cheese and that’s pairing it with my other favorite foods, like chocolate! If your first reaction isn’t, “OMG yum,” then let me change your mind. Chocolate can be rich and savory (ahem, sea salt) and cheese can be deliciously sweet (ever had honey chevre?); the most important thing when pairing the two is to connect flavors.
Whether you’re planning a fun girls’ night, a romantic date, or creating some Valentine’s themed treats, this decadent board is perfect. If you’re still not convinced, check out some of my other pairing ideas like my Perfect Cheese Pairings, Cheese & Honey Pairing (plus part 2, part 3, and part 4), and Whole Foods Recommendations. Find even more ideas in my very own Cheese Board Deck (available for pre-order now)!
How to Pair Chocolate and Cheese
The general rule for pairings is to match “like with like.” Meaning that you should match cheeses and chocolates of similar strengths and flavor profiles together. Let me explain my favorite pairings…
Parmigiano Reggiano and dark chocolate with almonds is a classic pair; Parmigiano Reggiano is a robust and nutty cheese, so it goes great with a hearty dark chocolate with almonds (or your favorite nut). Because dark chocolate has less sugar and has a richer taste, it goes well with the saltier flavors of aged, complex cheeses (like Parmigiano Reggiano) and adding the nuts complements the nutty, umami flavor in the cheese. Pro tip: I never reach for any old “parmesan;” if it’s not Parmigiano Reggiano I don’t use it, and here’s why! When dealing with these aged cheeses, the general rule is that they tend to be less acidic, so they pair well with chocolates with fillings, like almonds, honey, maple, et cetera.
Following the same rule (i.e. like with like), Goat Cheese + Milk Chocolate are both super creamy and slightly sweet whereas Blue cheese + extra dark chocolate (70% or higher) are both strong flavors, so the chocolate is able to stand up to the stinkiness. To put it more generally, soft ripened cheeses tend to be stinkier and more acidic, so they pair well with dark chocolate–the stinkier the cheese, the darker the chocolate!
And believe it or not, the buttery notes in caramel and toffee pair really well with the buttery flavors in truffle cheeses, but be careful with sweetness! If the chocolate is too sweet (looking at you, milk chocolate!) it will overpower the buttery flavor and you won’t have a good pairing.
The Best Pairings
Check out my Perfect Cheese Pairings for more ideas!
- Parmigiano Reggiano + dark chocolate with almonds or nutty flavors (seen here)
- Goat Cheese + Milk Chocolate (seen here)
- Blue cheese + extra dark chocolate (seen here)
- Extra sharp white cheddar + dark chocolate with raspberries or other fruity flavors
- Monterrey Jack + milk chocolate
- Brie and triple cream cheese + dark chocolate with earthy or spicy flavors
- Gruyere and gouda + extra dark chocolate with nutty flavors
- Goat cheese + dark or milk chocolate (depending on the goat cheese flavors)
- Truffle cheese + salted caramel chocolate
Before you dig in
Follow these 2 rules of thumb for the best experience:
- Sniff check! Smell the cheese and the chocolate first, just in case. Remember that you taste with your nose!
- Cheese first! I found that taking a bite of cheese before the chocolate makes it taste a little better.
Put it All Together
- Start by placing the prepared cheeses evenly spaced throughout the board (I like to slice hard cheeses and leave soft cheeses whole; check out more tips in my Cheese Board 101)
- Next, place complimentary chocolates by each of the cheeses to lead your guests to the perfect pairings
- Dress up the pairings with your typical cheese plate fare like meat(s) and fruit(s). Then garnish with herbs or edible flowers to serve.
- Serve crackers, crisps, and/or crostini on the side–the world is your oyster (or at least this board is).
Some Ideas to Consider
- Make salami rosettes for decoration (like I made for my Birthday Cheese Cake). Salami Rosette tutorial here.
- Make an apple heart for a fresh addition (see this tutorial for a step by step)
- Garnish with sprigs of fresh herbs, like rosemary, or edible flowers (see the list in my Bridgerton-Inspired Cheese Board post)
- Serve with delicious parmesan crisps (here’s my recipe) and crackers on the side
- Go an extra step and find the perfect wine pairing (check out this post from Wine Folly). I also include a Wine & Cheese Flight card in Cheese Board Deck (available for pre-order now)!
Show Me Your Boards!
I hope this post inspires you to create delicious cheese pairings boards. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the beautiful spreads and snacks you create from my tips. If you make something inspired by this post, please tag me at @ainttooproudtomeg so I can see and share!
And, If you liked this recipe, please rate and review.
The Ultimate Chocolate and Cheese Pairing Board
- Parmigiano Reggiano sliced
- Goat chevre I like Trader Joe's or Aldi
- Blue cheese I like Point Reyes Blue
- Milk chocolate
- 70% dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate with almonds
- Chocolate covered Oreos
- Apple heart (see tutorial linked in post)
- Salami rosettes (see tutorial linked in post)
- Fresh rosemary sprigs
- Fresh lavender sprig
- Start by placing the cheeses evenly spaced throughout the board.
- Next, place complimentary chocolates by each of the cheeses to lead your guests to the perfect pairings: chevre with milk chocolate, blue with dark chocolate, and Parmigiano with dark chocolate with almonds.
- Add the salami rosettes, fruit, and any additional sweets, then garnish the board with rosemary and add the lavender on top of the chevre.
- Serve crackers, crisps, and/or crostini on the side.