Editor’s Note: The following pairing recommendations have been made by the National Honey Board.

Consumers want comfort in their candies and chocolates, especially in recent times. However, they also want to feel good after indulging in their favorites, and that’s where better-for-you ingredients come in. 

Honey’s ability to pair with popular confectionery flavors in the chocolate space is timeless, but honey offers so much more than just sweetness. 

Most sweeteners used in the confectionery space are simply composed of carbohydrates. Honey, on the other hand, is an acidic ingredient with a pH of 3.9. The acids in honey help balance the carbohydrates and lends complexity, sweetness and acidity to chocolate products. 

Plus, there are more than 3,000 varietals of honey in the world, each with its own unique flavor, aromatics and flavor dependent solely on where the honey bees forage for nectar. 

Honey is so much more than a carbohydrate source. It’s a complex ingredient that provides chocolate confections with balance and an intense depth of flavor, especially when paired with these trending flavor combinations.

Honey + Dark Chocolate
Five years ago, dark chocolate became the top type of chocolate in most new product launches, and today that figure holds strong. A National Confectioners Association “Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers Study” found “super dark” options with less sugar and cocoa contents of 80%, 90% and even 100% are a priority for health conscious consumers. 

Honey is ideal for dark chocolate flavor pairings, as it balances bitter notes, making the confection sweeter with a hint of tartness. CocoaBee released a new Dark Chocolate Whole Almonds bar earlier this year with 73% cocoa. Sweetened only with honey, there is no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners or additives in this 85-gram bar.

Honey + Spice
Chocolate lovers who love a kick of flavor are in luck: honey’s gluconic acid elevates spices and herbs creating complex, dynamically-flavored chocolates. Mintel’s “No. of Chocolate Confectionery Launches in North America 2010-2019 with Herbs or Spices” showed product launches during the last five years in this category have risen 83%. 

Middle Eastern, tropical and Asian flavors are hot in more ways than one and are still going strong. Lake Champlain Chocolates’ Hot Honey Caramel Chocolate Bar is made with honey, 57% dark chocolate and a habañero chili pepper infusion.

Honey + Alcohol
Consumers needing added comfort are raising the proverbial chocolate bar with confections that are infused with alcohol. Honey’s popularity in the beer and spirits industries is booming, and it’s easily translated into solid form, resulting in bursts of flavor and appeal. 

GlobalData’s 2019 Q4 Consumer Survey shows 43% of consumers now enjoy cocktail-inspired or alcoholic flavors in chocolate. Theo Chocolate’s 4-Piece Beer Confection Collection combines honey, Hazy India Pale Ale and chocolate in a unique boozy chocolate.

For more information on honey’s qualities in confection flavor pairings, visit honey.com.