What To Pair With Chocolate

March 21, 2014

Today: We talk to spice master and Provisions merchant Lior Lev Sercarz about the best things to eat with chocolate.

This article is brought to you by our friends at Ghirardelli Intense Dark and their new Twilight Delight 72% cacao chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate, our general rule of thumb is yes. And while we love to cook with it, and bake with it, we really like to eat it as is. A square of good quality dark chocolate alone does wonders for any rough day, but could we make it even better somehow?

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A lot of people talk about pairing wine with food. But what about chocolate pairings? Are there foods that would make chocolate more resonant, more intense … dare we say, more delicious? We put the question to an expert in all things spice and flavor-related: Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte à Epice. Lior knows how to mix unexpected flavors -- take his spice blend of lemon, saffron, coriander, and fennel in our Provisions shop as an example. When he told us his favorite snack as a child in Belgium was a square of dark chocolate sandwiched in a squishy white roll, we knew we’d come to the right person.  

Here are some of his tips for thinking outside the box when it comes to chocolate:

Use Salt

You need foods with a big flavor profile to stand up to the intensity of dark chocolate. Salty foods are perfect for this – especially ones with a crunchy or smoky element (think crackers or nuts). Sprinkle some large flake salt over dark chocolate ice cream. Try one spoonful with it, and one without, and see how much richer the salted spoonful tastes.

Make it Hot

Pepper or chilis create a numbness on the tongue that allows less dominant taste buds to come out, so you’ll taste more sweetness in very dark chocolate that usually tastes bitter. Test this by eating dark chocolate alone, and then after a bite of a very spicy Sriracha-laced popcorn


Chocolate has its own set of nuanced flavors, so any spice is going to highlight some and downplay others. Don’t be shy about playing around with pairings, and pay attention to what you like. Lior suggests less expected spices, like curry powder and star anise, to nudge chocolate into the savory territory. If you prefer sweetness, try pink peppercorn – the natural oiliness coats your palate, which helps you taste the sugar. Coffee fan? Break a square of dark chocolate into your morning cup and let it melt. Both the chocolate and coffee will amplify each other, and you won’t need an added sweetener. 

His greatest advice is not to take it too seriously – if you like potato chips, by all means eat a handful with some very good chocolate. That’s the sort of encouragement we can get behind.

What's your favorite way to eat chocolate? Tell us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Ghirardelli Intense Dark.



See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Maggie
  • Carissa Albitre
    Carissa Albitre
  • May
  • Patkunstenaar
  • Diane
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Maggie June 15, 2015
Carissa A. April 1, 2014
Chocolate cupcakes with bacon and salted caramel buttercream frosting. They're a hit every time I bring them somewhere!
May March 23, 2014
Best pairing for chocolate? More chocolate, of course!

I also love a stick quality dark chocolate with fresh warm baguette and a slather of salty butter.
Patkunstenaar March 23, 2014
NOT happy to find that this article is a paid commercial! Even if every word s accurate, this is not what I expect - or will accept - from Food52. Please do not repeat this mistake!
Food52 March 23, 2014
Thanks for your note and concern. We make a point to work only with partners whose products we like and respect. We're all fans of Ghirardelli and have been eating their chocolate and using it in our baking for years. The topic of chocolate pairings is a natural one for us to discuss on Food52, and we feel that having Ghirardelli sponsor such a discussion makes perfect sense.
EO April 10, 2014
I don't like this advertising sponsorship either. Understand the need for revenue but it ain't classy.
Charles S. February 25, 2015's a little known secret, you don't HAVE to buy Ghirardelli brand chocolate if you don't want to. matter of fact you should buy Lindt chocolate. (brought to you by a certified Lindt distributor)
Diane March 22, 2014
I've been adding a teaspoon of cocoa to my matcha lattes (I guess that would make a matcha mocha?) Really nice together, I'd like to incorporate it into my baking somehow.
yjZuk March 22, 2014
Chipotle pepper works as well.
Smokiness & spiciness + sweet = heaven in the mouth
Nicole D. March 22, 2014
I once enjoyed a choc & cheese pairing. I think it might have been manchego.
Nicole D. March 22, 2014
I once enjoyed a choc & cheese pairing. I think it might have been manchego.
Marilyn L. March 22, 2014
You cannot beat good dark chocolate with a good red wine!
Lavender March 22, 2014
Godiva's Strawberries dipped in chocolate, there's nothing more delicious. And I love the combination of chocolate and lemons or oranges. Great subject, I love chocolate!
Tereza March 22, 2014
I love dipping strawberries into dark chocolate as a an easy go-to dessert!
gluttonforlife March 21, 2014
I love the Mast Brothers' recipe for chocolate-studded gingersnaps - a great combo!
AntoniaJames March 21, 2014
How nice to see Ghirardelli featured here! Their chocolates make great homemade truffles. I'm partial to dark chocolate + dried sour cherries + toasted almonds (or pecans) -- a small handful of the combination, savored slowly.
Or homemade candied orange peel (I prefer the recipe that calls for brandy and spices, here on Food52) dipped in dark chocolate.
Alice Medrich's fabulous chocolate pecan pie has recently stolen my heart.
Oh goodness, I could go on and on. Chocolate = the quintessential treat. ;o)