Cheese and Chocolate - they do go together!

You may not be able to travel far this holiday season, but there is no reason your tastebuds can’t go on their own adventure. There are so many talented craft food and beverage makers in Ontario that it is easy to create your own culinary adventure.

Ours was guided by Cecilia Smith from Cheese by Cecilia, who helped us create a cheese and chocolate board, pairing some fantastic Ontario and Quebec cheeses with some of our single origin and flavoured bars. There were some surprisingly unexpected (for me) synergies.  Who knew blue cheese paired so well with chocolate! And soft goat cheeses like Cross Wind Farm's cloud-like chevre was hard to put down paired with our Johnson Mountain 72% bar. 

We love this idea for dessert, or even better, to nibble on when you are kicking back with your favourite holiday movie. We included a selection of dried and fresh fruit on our board, and a glass of our favourite big red. But don't forget about beer!  Check out the Second Wedge’s Rain Barrel Bourbon Aged Imperial Porter, Spice Factory or their latest, Good Wood. All will pair beautifully with both chocolate and cheese. Yum!

These are all Ontario and Quebec cheeses, and most can be found in Uxbridge at The Passionate Cook's Essentials, direct from Cecilia when the Uxbridge Farmers Market is in session or from any good local cheesemonger. I know that Cecilia also enjoys her chocolate,  so she was pretty keen to provide us with some guidance……here it is!

 1. JOHNSON MOUNTAIN 72% CHOCOLATE

This Jamaican bean comes from the beautiful Bachelor’s Hall Estate on the SE tip of Jamaica and is one of the first fine-flavoured cacaos to come out of the country. Subtle notes of tropical fruit blend seamlessly with deep dark chocolate to produce a smooth mellow chocolate experience.

PAIRING NOTES FROM CECILIA:

This chocolate is perfect with a cheddar like Île- aux-Grues cheddar from Quebec.  It works to cut the acidity of the cheddar, smoothing the edges of the chocolate.

It is also lovely with plain Ontario chevre. Place a small teaspoon of the cheese on a piece of chocolate….wonderful.

Also, consider a blue cheese with this chocolate.  It is great with Le Bleu D'Élizabeth, Celtic Blue, and truly amazing with goat blue where it takes the tang and goaty-ness away and elevates the sweetness of the cheese and chocolate!

CHEESES:  

  • Île- aux-Grues Cheddar, Fromagerie Île-aux-Grues, QC
  • Chevre, various Ontario and Quebec cheesemakers
  • Le Bleu D'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
  • Celtic Blue, Glengarry Fine Cheese, ON
  • Goat Blue, various Ontario and Quebec cheesemakers

 

2. ZAFARA

For this unique bar, Guatemalan cacao is ground with local Ontario saffron from True Saffron in Warkworth, ON. The combination of the earthy saffron with the caramel honey flavours of the bean produces a chocolate that is both floral and raisiny. 

PAIRING NOTES FROM CECILIA:

This saffron chocolate goes well with firm aged cheeses like manchego and cheddars like Thea sheep cheddar or Avonlea cloth bound cheddar.  It also is delicious with blues like Celtic blue, Le Bleu D'Élizabeth, and others, bringing out their sweeter side.

CHEESES

  • Celtic Blue, Glengarry Fine Cheese, ON
  • Le Bleu D'Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
  • Thea Sheep Cheddar, Lenberg Farms, Mariposa Dairy, ON
  • Avonlea Cloth-Bound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PEI
  • Manchego

 

3. BLACK PEPPER CARDAMOM

Our Black Pepper Cardamom bar uses the solid chocolate base of the Kilombero cacao and is ground with both green cardamom and tellicherry black pepper. The spices tend to appear at different times in the mouth with the aroma and slight taste of cardamom in front, followed by the Kilombero chocolate and finishing with delicate touch of black pepper.

PAIRING NOTES FROM CECILIA:

This chocolate is wonderful with mild buttery washed rinds like Oxford Harvest. Oka cheese brings out the pepperiness of the chocolate and butter notes in the cheese. Pairing with blues elevates the spiciness of blue cheeses to a whole new high.

CHEESE

  • Oxford Harvest, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
  • Oka, Oka, QC
  • All Blues, see above

 

4. MONTE GRANDE

This Guatemalan cacao has a pronounced caramel/honey flavour and a slight amount of fruitiness to round out the chocolate flavour. It is one of our more unique chocolates.

PAIRING NOTES FROM CECILIA:

The honey caramel flavours of this bar are lovely with mild washed rinds as above; Oka and Oxford Harvest and Gruyere-type cheeses like Handeck from Gunn’s Hill Dairy.   

CHEESE

  • Oka, Oka, QC
  • Oxford Harvest, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, ON
  • Handeck, Gunn’s Dairy, ON
  • Gruyere

 

5. AMBANJA 72%

This chocolate uses a Madagascar bean known for its fruit forward flavours. With intensity of fruit varying from harvest to harvest, flavours range from a hefty cherry to hints of red currant or even raspberry along with a rich chocolate. 

PAIRING NOTES FROM CECILIA:

This pairing is an example of like with like. The Ambanja bar is beyond delicious combined with a bold red wine, so it is no surprise that it also pairs wonderfully with Red Wine cheddar, Tipsy cheddar (a cheddar soaked in cabernet merlot), and Lindsay Cloth Bound cheddar. The perfect nibble for the end of a meal.

CHEESE:

  • Red Wine Cheddar, Bothwell Cheeses, ON
  • Tipsy, Gunn’s Hill, ON
  • Lindsay Clothbound Cheddar

 

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