Be Considerate About What Type Of Hot Chocolate You Pair With Cheese

Sweet and salty food pairings are a classic tastebud combination. If you've ever dipped your french fry in a milkshake or sprinkled fleur de sel on top of chocolate chip cookies, you know what we're talking about. And while some of these sweet and salty combos are staples in American cuisine (hello, PB&J), others may be a bit more unfamiliar. For example, have you ever heard of a donut burger, or a Nutella BLT? Along with Dr. Pepper and peanuts, and white chocolate and olive paninis, Buzzfeed declares that these unusual pairings are "unexpectedly awesome." We'll take their word for it.

Slapping together any sweet and salty foods doesn't always result in a delicious bite, however. There's an art to creating a winning combination — and a science behind why we love it so much. As chef and registered dietitian Jessica Swift told Eat This, Not That!, salt actually carries the taste of sugar in your mouth. "The receptors responsible for transporting sugars to cells can only do so with sodium present," Swift said. "Research suggests that this may be the reason we respond to the sweet and salty combination so well."

So how can you perfect the art of the sweet and salty combo? First, take into consideration the flavors of one of the elements before choosing its partner. For example, in the case of pairing hot chocolate with cheese, not all varieties of the sweet beverage will work well.

Dark chocolate goes better with cheese

Rich, creamy hot chocolate is an excellent complement to a light, salty snack. According to Insanely Good Recipes, a big handful of kettle corn snack mix should do the trick. Not only will you get a variety of salty components, but the crunch should balance out the smoothness of hot chocolate nicely. If you don't have kettle corn on hand, keep it simple with salted nuts. Eat Delights notes that you can even throw them in your drink, where they may melt slightly and add a salty component.

However, if you've got a cheese drawer in your fridge, you should already be set on the perfect hot chocolate pairing. The Spruce Eats recommends topping crackers with cheese for a salty, crunchy bite, ideal for balancing out the creamy sweetness of hot chocolate. Just keep in mind that not all hot chocolate is created equal. Milk chocolate can be too much for your taste buds when paired with cheese, so stick to dark chocolate for this combination. Food & Wine explains that because milk chocolate has a high dairy content, it's not a great compliment for the dairy in cheese. On the other hand, dark chocolate works well as a cheese accompaniment, in hot chocolate and beyond. 

Try eating a dark chocolate truffle with a bit of gouda, brie, or fontina for the perfect mouthful (via The Spruce Eats). And don't worry if you can't stick to just one bite.