The pairing between cigar and chocolate
Chocolate is a food derived from the seeds of the cocoa tree. Dark chocolate is the most prized of the cocoa products and is recognized for its characteristic dark color and its unmistakable bitter taste. Due to its unique and peculiar characteristics, it is used more and more often as an ingredient for culinary preparations even outside the pastry shop. It can also be paired individually with food (e.g. bread), alcoholic and nervine drinks and smoking products.
The cocoa tree
The cocoa plant, called Theobroma cacao, grows in the wet and warm areas of the equatorial forests. There are three types of varieties:
– Criollo: little used on an industrial level due to the low production and the low resistance to diseases.
– Forastero: originally from the Upper Amazon, it is the most cultivated.
– Trinitarians: genetically heterogeneous variety, it seems to come from the cross between the Criollo of Trinidad and the Forastero.
The classification of cocoa and chocolate in Europe
Extract from Directive 2000/36 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 June 2000 relating to cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption.
- Cocoa butter: The fatty substance obtained from cocoa beans or parts of cocoa beans having the following characteristics:
– free fatty acid content (expressed as oleic acid) not higher than 1,75%,
– unsaponifiables (determined using petroleum ether) not more than 0.5%, with the exception of the pressure cocoa butter which cannot exceed 0.35%.
- A) Cocoa powder or cocoa: The product obtained by transforming clean, hulled and roasted cocoa beans into powder and which has a minimum cocoa butter content of 20% (percentage calculated on the weight of the dry substance) and a maximum water content of 9%.
B) Low-fat cocoa powder or low-fat cocoa: Cocoa powder with a cocoa butter content of less than 20% (percentage calculated on the weight of the dry substance).
C) Chocolate powder: The product consisting of a mixture of cocoa powder and sugars, containing not less than 32% of cocoa powder.
D) Common chocolate powder or sweetened cocoa: Product consisting of a mixture of cocoa powder and sugars, containing not less than 25% of cocoa powder; these definitions are supplemented with the term «lean» or «strongly degreased», if the product is lean or strongly degreased according to the previous letter B).
- Chocolate: The product obtained from cocoa and sugar products which, subject to the provisions of letter B), has a minimum total dry cocoa content of 35%, of which not less than 18% of cocoa butter and not less than 14% of defatted dry cocoa.
* According to current legislation, quality chocolate has greater quantities of cocoa dry matter (minimum 43%) and cocoa butter (minimum 26%).
- Milk chocolate: The product obtained from cocoa, sugar and milk products or milk-based products and which has a minimum content:
– of total dry cocoa substance of 25%;
– milk dry matter obtained by partial or total dehydration of whole milk, partially or totally skimmed milk, cream, partially or totally dehydrated cream, butter or milk fat of 14%;
– 2.5% degreased dry cocoa,
– 3.5% milk fat,
– total fat (cocoa butter and milk fat) of 25%.
- Common milk chocolate: The product obtained from cocoa, sugar and milk or from milk-based products, which has a minimum content:
– 20% total cocoa dry matter,
– milk dry matter obtained by partial or total dehydration of whole milk, partially or totally skimmed milk, cream, partially or totally dehydrated cream, butter or milk fat of 20%,
– 2.5% degreased dry cocoa,
– 5% milk fat,
– total fat (cocoa butter and milk fat) of 25%.
- White chocolate: The product obtained from cocoa butter, milk or milk and sugar products, and which contains not less than 20% of cocoa butter and 14% of milk dry matter obtained by partial or total dehydration whole milk, partially or totally skimmed milk, cream, partially or totally dehydrated cream, butter or milk fat; the latter must be present in quantities of at least 3.5%. of the previous definition.
The pairing between cigar and chocolate in detail
Breaking a square of chocolate and savoring its taste while smoking a cigar can be called an intoxicating experience. To ensure a pleasant continuity during the pairing, it is good that to take in consideration only pairings by concordance and avoiding combining chocolate with a percentage of cocoa higher than 90%.
Pairing according to sweetness and spiciness
If you want to combine cigar and chocolate based on sweetness and spiciness, it is good practice to prefer cigars that release aromas of sweet spices rather than spicy spices, further leveraging fruity notes rather than herbaceous notes. The chocolate must have a cocoa content ranging from 60% to 70% in order not to accentuate too much its bitter and toasted hints during the pairing phase.
Choosing the cigar correctly starting from the assumption that it must release sweet notes, with the continuation of the smoke there will be less chance of encountering too marked spicy notes or roasting notes that could ruin the pairing with chocolate.
Pairing according to structure and persistence
As for drinks, the pairing according to structure and persistence also applies to the world of chocolate. Here are some rules:
– Cigars with a light body and not very persistent on the palate should be paired with low-structured and not very persistent dark chocolates, with a percentage of cocoa ranging from 60% to 70%.
– Medium-bodied and medium-persistent cigars on the palate should be paired with medium-structured and medium-persistent dark chocolates, with a percentage of cocoa ranging from 70% to 80%.
– Full-Bodied cigars, structured with a long persistence on the palate should be paired with dark body chocolates, structured, with a long persistence, possibly in the presence of with a percentage of cocoa ranging from 80% to a maximum of 90%.
The exciting pairing (contribution by Simone Fazio)
In addition to the criteria of concordance and contraposition, there is a third type of pairing for cigars, not common to any other food and beverage pairing, the exciting pairing. The taste buds are in fact predisposed to receive stimuli of liquid and non-gaseous nature as in the case of smoking. Since the aromas and strength typically originated from fatty compounds, combinations of fatty matrix such as chocolate or dried fruit can enhance the characteristics of the cigars, bringing the volatile fatty acids into solution and interfacing them with the tongue.
A marriage with three elements: cigar, chocolate and drink.
In this type of pairing, the cigar must be the needle of the balance and the absolute protagonist of the whole experience. In order to carry out a marriage with three elements it is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of each product that will be used for the pairing. In chocolate, in particular in dark chocolate, there are both soft and sweet perceptions and both acid and bitter perceptions, determined by the percentage of cocoa present in the product. The drink in pairing will have to adapt to the concordant sensations of the cigar and chocolate in order to create a correct harmony. The fatness released by the chocolate in the mouth also requires a drink of good alcoholic strength or hot, capable of drying and cleaning the oral cavity. It is important to remember that even for this type of pairing, matching by concordance only applies. Going into a pairing by contrast, unpleasant gustatory disharmonies could be created.
In this article we have addressed the topic of the pairing between cigar and chocolate. The different types of var23eties of the cocoa tree were analyzed to then list the legal classification of chocolate. The world of dark chocolate is fascinating and intoxicating and amazes above all for its use in modern gastronomy but also in pairings. The fundamental rule to keep in mind when combining a cigar with chocolate is to always keep in mind the criteria of concordance, such as sweetness, spiciness, structure and persistence. Finally, we saw how it is possible to create a real threesome by combining a drink, chocolate and cigar, always remembering that the undisputed protagonist must remain the latter.
Thanks to Simone Fazio for his contribution in this article.
Image by Alexander Stein from Pixabay