On its own, chocolate is a wonderful treat. Marry chocolate with the perfect flavor pairing, and the snack becomes even more memorable. Classic pairings, such as chocolate with peanut butter, raspberry or mint, are here to stay, but adventurous flavors are growing in popularity. Whether you choose fruit, spices or savory ingredients, there is a burgeoning realm of flavor accompaniments that offer a wide range of possibilities in the baked goods world. Below are just a few trends to keep an eye on in the coming seasons.

Chocolate and wine are naturally suited for pairing—both are incredibly complex and are flavored by the terroir of their growing regions. When pairing, a white wine made from Riesling grapes is complemented beautifully by milk chocolate, while a tawny port begs for dark chocolate.

Wines, however, are not the only beverages that pair well with chocolate. Other beverage flavors can make excellent chocolate companions, such as whiskey, beer or Earl Gray tea.

New pairings

Chocolate and meat may seem like an odd match at first, but bakers and confectioners are discovering that they go together perfectly. Try chocolate and bacon. This sweet-savory combination is a hit with consumers and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Try it in a variety of applications ranging from cakes and muffins to high-quality chocolate bars.

Cream cheese has long been a friend of chocolate, whether in cheesecake or the more compact truffle form. More distinctive cheeses can take this pairing to a whole new level. For instance, chocolate can be coupled with the flavors of aged cheddar, parmesan or fresh goat cheese.

Early Mesoamerican civilizations used cocoa beans as currency, but it was the Mayans who discovered the health benefits of drinking chocolate with chile. Today’s consumers have found that the combination of chocolate and spice is incredibly tasty as well. Chiles can add a great dash of spice. For something a little more adventurous, try curry powder or ginger.

Pairing chocolate with fruit is nothing new, but instead of strawberries or orange flavors, why not try pomegranate, plum or even pumpkin? Herbs, such as basil and lavender, also can add intriguing notes when paired with chocolate.

Don’t forget the salt

Salt and chocolate always have gone well together. Sweet and savory chocolate pairings like bacon or peanut butter work well because of the salt in the savory ingredients. These days, however, salt is a category unto itself. All kinds of chocolate confections, snacks and baked goods are being sprinkled with it. But don’t use just any salt—distinguish your creation with the flavor of fleur de sel gris (grey sea salt), Himalayan pink salt or sesame salt.

Just as important as the creative and tasty accompaniment is the chocolate used as the foundation of the treat. As a premier supplier of cocoa and chocolate ingredients worldwide, Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) helps customers in the snack food and baked goods industry create products that satisfy a host of flavor, texture and color requirements.

ADM Cocoa’s Ambrosia brand includes a variety of chocolate coatings, drops, chunks and cocoa liquor products, as well as chocolate and compound coatings. The Merckens brand features the Rainbow line of chocolate-flavored and pastel coatings for a variety of confectionary applications, such as solid moulding, decoration and enrobing centers.

Recently, ADM Cocoa introduced deZann Belgian Chocolate, a specialty chocolate that is ideal for use in confections. The deZann product line also includes cocoa powders, cocoa butter and cocoa liquor as well as custom chocolate formulations.

The pairing possibilities are endless when using chocolate. A small amount of creativity and an open mind can lead to a culinary adventure that will be worth repeating. One of the best avenues to learn new ideas and expand your knowledge of new trends in today’s snack foods and baked goods is to attend industry events such as the upcoming Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) tradeshow, June 25-28 in Las Vegas. Stop by the ADM booth to learn more about these pairing trends or ADM Cocoa products. 


Editor’s Note: Archer Daniels Midland’s ADM Cocoa is based in Milwaukee, and can be contacted at 1-800-558-9958 or admcocoa@adm.com. For additional information, visit www.adm.com/cocoa.