There is no reason to go with just chocolate for your sweet heart’s Valentines gift.
Not that chocolate is anything to scoff at but why not get them chocolate and cheese. People have been pairing cheese and chocolate together for years so it may not seem that unusual to some but, if it does, just hear me out and try these pairings.
I chose to use one brand of chocolate for my Valentines cheese plate. Askinosie Chocolate has been making really good chocolate from bean to bar in Springfield since 2007. Askinosie makes great chocolate and the complex flavors are great when served alongside a little fermented milk curd.
My plate is made up of three cheeses and three chocolate bars, each selected for their outstanding ability to marry and become something totally new. They are rich but what about Valentines Day isn’t?
Try Flory’s Truckle with Askinosie’s 70 percent Cortés bar made with Cocoa beans from Honduras. Flory’s Truckle is a favorite around The Better Cheddar.
Homestead Creamery in Jamesport, Mo., makes the Truckle with raw milk from their herd of Jersey cows. This cheddar is made in the traditional farmhouse style by wrapping the cheese in cloth and then aging it for a year. The flavor is savory and sharp like you would expect from a great cheddar but it has some sweetness as well.
In this case the cheese works with the chocolate because of their contrasting characteristics. The cheese’s dominant savory and smooth favors contrast with the dark chocolate’s dominant bitter and fruity flavors. Its cheese and chocolate but as you alternate bites it becomes something new that is hard to describe. But it’s good.
For those of you who really like soft, buttery and decadent triple cream cheeses try Delice de Bourgogne with Askinosie’s and Zingerman’s CollaBARation bar. The Delice is a French bloomy rind cheese with a rich, salty and buttery flavor and the chocolate bar has sugar crystals and Vanilla bean.
Because this is a soft cheese I prefer to grate the chocolate over the cheese. Add as much or as little as you want and then spread it on some crusty bread or for a sweeter bite try a sugar cookie. I know its weird but it works.
To finish it off try Black Betty Gouda with Askinosie’s White Chocolate with Pistachios. Black Betty is a Dutch goat’s milk Gouda aged for a year. The wheels are released for sale in the fall and when they are gone they are gone. We still have a few wheels left and it is perfect with the chocolate.
Even though one is “black” and the other is “white” the cheese and chocolate work together because of their similar flavor characteristics not the contrasting ones. The Gouda has a sweet, nutty, and caramel like undertone and it doesn’t contrast with the chocolate they only come together in a sweet nutty flavor explosion. It probably doesn’t hurt that the chocolate is made with some goat’s milk too.
So that box of chocolates just won’t cut it, add cheese and chocolate to your gift and you might just steal that person’s heart forever.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for the Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.