You are generally used to having hot cocoa and chocolate as they are with decadent toppings like whipped cream and marshmallows. Yet, the hot beverage’s ability to pair with other flavours is higher than they are given credit for. Although hot chocolate is considered a sweet comfort drink for a cosy cuddle in the night by the couch near the fire, it works well with varied food items. Some sweet, salty, and tangy things are great pairing options with hot cocoa.
The most important aspect to remember when pairing any drink and food is that the aim is to complement and not match the food being paired. While having that chocolate bar with hot chocolate can be tempting, it leads to excessive chocolate for the palate to enjoy and take in. Instead, consider complementary and contrasting flavours. Chocolates are usually excellent with light salty foods and those that are slightly spiced up.
They are also a delight to have with many fruits, especially the tangy ones such as oranges and tart apples. Here are some ways to enjoy a good bite with your next hot beverages. These could be your starting point and inspiration:
These act as a foil to the hot chocolate’s intense sweetness. Avoid those greasy snack items as they clash with the richness of cocoa. Instead, consider fluffy croissants online or air-popped popcorn. You could also add chocolate-friendly spices in the beverages, such as chilli powder, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon. Nut butter on rice cakes or grainy bread is a good choice too.
Salted pretzels, spice roasted almonds, roasted nuts, pumpkin seeds toasted, etc., are excellent companions. Try opting for dark hot chocolate as milk chocolate and cheese can be overwhelming for the palate.
The items you choose here should be in moderation. Typically, the best food pairing under this are sweets with pronounced flavours like mint. This could be anything such as peppermint, candy canes, etc. Consider good angel cake drizzled with caramel sauce, crème de menthe liquor, or limoncello. Caramel and sea salt frozen yoghurt are the best treats. Tarts, candied fruits also make an exciting match.
Tart cherries and dried cranberries or mixed dry fruits and roasted nuts add some crunch elements. If you want that sweet and salty element, try the potato chip cookies.
Tangy fruits play off the excessive sweetness of hot chocolate as they refresh the palate. Remember, the tangier, the better. Any citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and tangerines are excellent choices. So are blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and other semi-tart and semi-sweet berries. Apples and apple tart varieties are the best counterparts for rich hot cocoa. Even green apples give that zest, creating an exciting hot and cold contrast.
Mangoes, cherries, pears, or tropical and less common fruits found in the market pair well too. You should aim for tangy goat’s cheese or salted crackers.
If none of these is your favourites, try coffee and hot cocoa. Nothing beats this natural pair. Coffee only enhances and complements the richness of the chocolate.