These days it seems as though chocolate is being paired with every beverage under the sun, so when a dear friend of ours gave us a gift of mezcal from Mexico I thought pairing it with chocolate was a worthy experiment. At first it seemed an unlikely combination, but I came across a blog post from Arcelia Gallardo, founder of Mission Chocolate, entitled “How to pair Mezcal & Chocolate” that inspired me to give it a try.
But how to find the right chocolate?? First, I thought about the various aspects of the mezcal we received. I don’t have any information on it as it was not given to us in the original container. For all we know, it could have been homemade. Our best guess based on the mouthfeel and nose was that it was around 90-100 proof. It was quite smooth and had a deep smokey agave flavor with light earthy notes. So, what would go well with this?
While there are countless chocolates to choose from, I was drawn to chocolates from Cuna De Piedra, specifically the 73% Comalcalco Tabasco and 73% Soconusco Chiapas with Mezcal Joven.
Here is a description of the Comalcalco Tabasco from the company’s website:
The cacao Cuna de Piedra processes for this bar is a single-estate bean. Beyond “single-origin”, this cacao is sourced from a single grower, Malaquías, whose production is supported by Carlos, a young engineer. On Malaquías’ finca, several hundred cacao trees coexist with wild black pepper vines and various citrus species. Cuna de Piedra is proud to work closely with them to ensure fair wages and ongoing sustainable harvesting.
Black pepper and citrus? Sounds delightful, right? Well, the only way to determine that was to taste it.
Let’s start out with talking about the packaging. According to Google translate “Cuna de Piedra” means “stone cradle”, which is what is on the cover of all of their boxes. It is a very befitting symbol that captures the history and essence of the company’s focus.
Out of the box came a bar wrapped in a beautiful copper colored shiny foil wrapper with the words "Mexico Cuna Del Cacao. Del Grano A La Barra.” (translated as “Mexico Cradle of Cocoa. From Grain To Bar.”) on the bar that could be seen through the foil. The bar was scored into eight good sized rectangular pieces.
Upon removing the copper colored foil, the scent of red fruit, like cherries came through. What was really pronounced was the creamy taste of the chocolate that ended with a slight hint of woody smokiness. It was not overwhelming or off-putting in any way. It had a smooth texture and a very creamy mouthfeel that lingered long on the tongue.
When paired with the mezcal, the chocolate seemed to bring out a touch of bitterness in the mezcal, which I didn’t pick up on its own. The mezcal brought out a sweet dried fruit (like prune) flavor that was not present when the chocolate was tasted on its own. The great thing was that the flavors did not compete, but rather complimented one another.
Now, onto the Soconusco Chiapas with Mezcal Joven. It may seem like overkill to taste mezcal with a chocolate bar made with mezcal. But I ask that you suspend that belief for a moment.
Here’s a description from the Cuna De Piedra website:
Young Mezcal made from 100% Maguey Espadín from Santiago Matatlán, a town located in the central valleys of Oaxaca, considered to be the “world capital of mezcal”. The agaves were crushed into an Egyptian stone mill, known as tahona, the liquid was fermented in oak vats and double distilled in clay pot stills to obtain the freshest citrus and herbal notes, which blend harmoniously with Cuna de Piedra's Soconusco, Chiapas 73.
This bar was wrapped in a shiny black foil wrapper. How bold and visually intriguing! The foil wrapper complimented the characteristics of this bar, as it had a smokey aroma and initial taste up front. Similar to the Comalcalco Tabasco, this bar transitioned to a creamy taste that ended on a lively note as the smoky and creamy flavors seemed to come together with the pronounced sweet tartness of raspberry.
When this bar was paired with the mezcal the raspberry flavor dissipated and was replaced by an incredibly rich cocoa flavor. At the same time, the smokey notes from both the chocolate and mezcal blended together to create a new flavor profile of accentuated cocoa. Simply delicious!
Both bars were palate pleasers on their own and served as great compliments to the mezcal and vice versa. So the next time you’re looking for something to pair with mezcal, look no further than some chocolate from Cuna De Piedra.