Special Episode: Cheese & Chocolate Pairings with Vanessa Chang ACS CCP, Food Educator, Consultant, Writer

An absolute joy to bring to Well Tempered the incredibly food-geeky and fun Vanessa Chang. She's energetic, serious about her craft with slice of snark, and it's near impossible not to fall in love with both cheese and chocolate with her informative and novice-to-experienced-friendly approach to enjoying and teaching about food. She leads many classes in food education surrounding the trilogy of her favorite things: specialty cheese, craft chocolate, and charcuterie, and writes on these subjects for national publications when she's not off hiking or getting outside. 

photo credit: Vanessa Chang

photo credit: Vanessa Chang

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Suggested order for cheese and chocolate pairing 
  • How do you taste each pairing? Understanding texture, melt speeds, and temperature
  • How does one pair dairy with dairy? (i.e. white or milk chocolates with cheese) 
  • Culinary approaches to fine chocolate & specialty cheese pairings 
  • Where to find high quality products for a successful pairing 
  • Digital applications for cataloging tastings
  • LOTS of amazing recommendations from a cheese, chocolate and charcuterie professional


On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee  (recipe for Harold's goat cheese truffles also found in Maricel Presilla's formidable cacao & chocolate book 'New Taste of Chocolate' )

Dave Selden 33 Books Co. (tasting journals)

Hazel (Choc) Lee's 'Taste with Colour' map

In pairings...don’t be afraid of residual sugar when you have a stronger cheese...” (example: oloroso sherry with a washed-rind cheese) - Vanessa Chang

Vanessa mentions local specialty food retailers* in various cities: 

Bay Area: Bi-rite Market, The Cheese School of San Francisco (where Vanessa teaches some classes)
SLC: Caputo's Market & Deli (multiple locations)
Austin: Antonelli's
Philly: Di Bruno Bros.
* not only are these retail outlets, but ::insider tip:: is this is where you can geek out with other cheese and ::some:: chocolate nerds

Pairings from this episode of the Well Tempered women in chocolate podcast: 

::Don't follow our lead; the senses can become quickly saturated, we recommend no more than 4-5 pairings for your event.::

Chocolate: Solstice Camino Verde 70% (notes: nutty, chocolate-y) 
Cheese: Italian Toma cheese or a US version from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Trillium from Vermont

Look for: soft ripened cheeses (brie or triple cream), alpine cheeses, cheese with brown butter notes

Chocolate: Beau Cacao, Serian 72% Malaysian estate cacao, made in London (notes: molasses, dark dessert wine, charred barrel) 
Cheese: aged goat cheese such as a Valencay (or domestically found Vermont Creamery's Bonne Bouche
Look for: ash rinds, Loire Valley styles

Chocolate: 80% Mashpi 'tree to bar' single farm chocolate from Ecuador (notes: wet earth, pour over coffee grounds)
Cheese: Com
té or a double aged gouda (think crystals), US gruyere
Look for: think adding milk to coffee, a Spring Brook Farms Tarentaise type cheese

Chocolate:  Perla Organic Chocolate, Olives & Sea Salt (notes: balanced sweet and savory tastes, buttery Nocellara olives), made in Quito, Ecuador
Cheese: sheep's milk, pecorino Toscano (various ages; 30 day is the most mild and might be great with inclusion chocolate bars), the Basque variety of Ossau-Iraty, or sheep's milk ricotta is also an interesting choice
Look for: nutty, butterscotch-y semi-hard cow's or sheep's milk (Manchego will also do)

Chocolate: Fruition 43% Brown Butter Milk Chocolate (notes: toffee, roasted hazelnuts, caramel)
Cheese: pungent washed-rind cheeses & blue cheeses like Caveman Blue by Rogue Creamery, as well as mixed milk Valdeon (Spanish blue cheese)

Look for: saltiness and bite to cut/balance the brown butter sweetness, a Taleggio (known since Roman times) is OK too

Chocolate: Willie's Cacao 'El Blanco' (notes: sweet cream, sugar cookies)
Look for: fresh cheeses, or cultured dairy such as
 crème fraîche
Easy recipe: Melt white chocolate over a double boiler, mix with mascarpone or chèvre (to create a mock pudding)

More Links: 
Matt Caputo heralds Vanessa as the impetus for his decision to start learning more about and stocking great craft chocolate at his markets and delis

More from Vanessa: 
Website: www.vanessachang.com
Instagram: @vanessajchang
Twitter: @VNess
Vanessa's Facebook Page

More from Lauren, host of Well Tempered and chocolate maker at WKND Chocolate
Instagram: @wkndchocolate @welltemperedpodcast 
Facebook: WKND Chocolate 
Email: podcast@wkndchocolate.com

Submit a nomination for future women in chocolate podcasts: https://goo.gl/forms/vzhbiUoxTCu3G55H2
Join the Well Tempered Facebook group for cacao and chocolate professionals! https://www.facebook.com/groups/welltempered


Lauren WKND