Reams have been written about the similarities between coffee and chocolate. They are both grown in the tropics, and require fermentation, drying and roasting to develop their flavours.
They both have hundreds of potential aromatic compounds or flavour notes. This is what makes them such wonderful worlds to explore and what opens the door to endless pairing opportunities.
I am very particular about my coffee, and always get a few sacks put in with the cacaos I get from Colombia and Peru. Over the years I have discovered some wonderful beans this way. I give them a light roast and keep my family well supplied!
It was an obvious step to make a coffee chocolate. No coffee essences for me. I take the freshly roasted beans, and capture them in all their glory by refining them into the chocolate while they are still warm.
Pairing the right cacaos with the right coffees is the next challenge. It is tempting to do it by growing region, but really it needs to be done by flavour.
It turns out to be almost impossible to pair highly fruity, citrusy chocolates with coffee. They seem to bring out too much acidity in the coffee and the effect is a pitched battle in your mouth!
The place to look is the nutty, caramelly side of the flavour map and these are the chocolates you will find in your boxes this month, so you can try creating your own pairings.
There is one very big difference. However much I love coffee, for years I gave it up completely and just drank hot chocolate made with 100% cacao. It gives you that same boost of energy and alertness but without the edginess. Whereas caffeine in coffee stimulates the body to produce stress producing cortisol, theobromine in chocolate makes the body produce endorphins which are what make you feel good after exercise. As a drink, for me it is chocolate all the way!
Las Trincheras 72 and Rio Caribe 72 are both in the nutty part of the flavour map and so perfect for coffee pairings. Las Trincheras is the bean I chose to make this month’s coffee chocolate. It provides the perfect gentle back note.
Milk of the Stars is a 54% Surabaya cacao milk chocolate. For me it’s like a flat white – enough milk to make it creamy but not so much it drowns the chocolate. Cadbury’s is a latte! Milk of the Gods at 44% Rio Caribe cacao is the cappuccino in this world.
For real indulgence try dipping El Blanco in an espresso and sucking it as it melts…soooo good!
Now we turn nutty. I always associate walnuts with coffee, a childhood of coffee walnut cakes and walnut whips perhaps. So that is the other Magnificent Creation I made this month. And to go with it I have chosen chocolates made with other nuts as a point of comparison: Hazelnut Raisin, and Almendra and Sea Kissed Almond both made with the incomparable Marcona almonds.
Toasted Walnut. Las Trincheras 72 dark chocolate with coffee and toasted walnuts #59
I have always wanted to make a proper walnut whip! But until then, here you have the perfect pairing of smooth nutty dark chocolate and lightly toasted walnuts.
Cappuccino. Dark coffee chocolate swirled with creamy white chocolate #60
Imagine the joy of dipping creamy El Blanco white chocolate in your espresso. Here you have it in chocolate form. Swirls of coffee heaven.