Experimenting With Flavor Combinations: Chocolate

I like working with different flavor combinations when cooking and baking.  For instance, a hint of tartness will enhance a deeper tone and a zip of salt adds zest to sweetness. I’m often wondering what flavors enhance and contrast each other and often refer to The Flavor Thesaurus for creating recipes.

I particularly like working with chocolate and how other flavors play off of it. Why chocolate? Because I love eating it. But also because it offers such a vast taste range in itself. How it’s prepared, what region it’s grown in, whether or not it’s roasted, and how long the fermentation process is are all factors that contribute to it’s flavor profile.

Here are some unique combinations I’ve come across recently…

A few years back I made this kale salad with raspberry reduction sprinkled with dark chocolate and almonds. Despite the unusual combination, it really was tasty! I really enjoyed the multiple layers of flavor and texture.

chocolate and kale spoonandapron 4

Chocolate babka bread is nothing new, but this particular one blew me away. The neutral taste of the bread highlighted the layers of sugar and deep dark chocolate. It was made by one of the contestants at the Take Down competition here in Brooklyn.


Another Take Down winner was this dark chocolate tart with cardamom and curry infused crust. I was a little suspicious of this combination, but it worked. Not only was the presentation beautiful, but the taste was gourmet quality.


A peak at some the chocolate you’ll find in my fridge: a variety of dark and sweet, plain and salted and some with coconut.  I’m pretty open with my addiction, not hiding anything here!


With dark chocolate chips, maple syrup, brown butter and pecan pieces, these chocolate chip cookies were something between a candy and a cookie. I crave regular old chocolate chip cookies any day of the week, but I wanted to add a little pizzazz to this recipe.


Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Maple Pecan Cookies, what a mouthful!

1 egg

1 cup of brown sugar

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

2 tbsp real maple syrup and more maple syrup for drizzling

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 sticks of salted real butter, to make unseparated browned butter

2c and 2 tbsp white baking flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup of dark chocolate

3/4 cup of chopped pecans

large salt crystals for sprinkling on top

Heat oven to 350. Brown the butter, set aside in a bowl to cool. Make sure to scrape all of the butter out with a spatula. Mix eggs, sugar and maple syrup together. Add sugar combination into butter once it is cool and mix thoroughly. If it’s too hot, the eggs will cook! Add eggs after the mixture has cooled. A lukewarm temperature should be ok.

Combine the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl, whisk together to avoid clumps. Mix the wet and dry ingredients and add the chocolate chips and nuts. Roll the dough and wrap in parchment paper for cutting and refrigerate for an hour. You don’t have to cool the dough, but it does add the the chewy texture of the cookies. Now cut into about 1/3 inch slices and place onto baking pan covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle sea salt and drizzle a few drops of maple syrup on top. Bake for about 5-7-9 minutes. These are finicky depending on the size and thickness of the cookie, so test a few to get the timing right. I like these chewy so I always pull them out of the oven just as they start to brown. They may be gooey and appear uncooked, but after they cool they are chewy and delicious.