February might be considered the most romantic of months – officially – but we’re of the belief that cozying up to a luxurious array of chocolate with a beloved is sublimely romantic at any time of year. Heck, we’d might even argue that it can be considered an act of self-care. However you wish to enjoy, a well-crafted chocolate board is an exceptional, and seasonless, dessert. Consider it the no-cook, crowd-pleasing treat everyone will remember.
Whether you’re snacking solo or sharing a sweet spread with a loved one, follow these five tips for making a deliciously indulgent chocolate board. Then pair it with the right wines to make the best of the moment.
1. Cover off the basics
Include the universal varieties on your chocolate board: Milk, white, and dark chocolate. Remember that bittersweet, semi-sweet and sweet dark are all classified as dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage range from 55-85 percent. With that assortment covered, you can layer in flavoured chocolate bars or squares, like caramel, orange, almond and coconut.
2. Play with textures
Include a variety of milk, dark and white chocolate in different forms on your chocolate board. A mix of textures, from crunchy chocolate bark and hard squares to delicate wafers and a light, creamy chocolate mousse, keep things interesting and ensure you’ve got something to suit everyone’s taste.
3. Think global
Bonus points for taking a gourmet journey around the globe with chocolates that are unique to different countries, from Belgian chocolate and Italy’s chocolate wafers, to French truffles and Switzerland’s world-famous milk chocolate. As you shop for your sweets, look for ethically sourced Fairtrade chocolate, too.
4. Accessorize your board
A next-level board is all about the details. Add fresh fruit to cut through the richness of your cocoa offering; whether cut in slices, wedges or chunks, they act as palette cleansers. Fruit can also serve as the perfect vehicle for dipping. Plus, colourful fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and even pomegranate seeds add a pretty punch of colour to your chocolate board. Next, complement your sweets with some savoury fixes. Add small bowls of salted nuts, chocolate-covered nuts and espresso beans, sea salt chocolate bars and pretzels.
5. Match your chocolate with wine
Name a better duo than chocolate and wine! The style of wine you choose, however, makes all the difference. Keep in mind the general wine-and-food pairing rule, that you should pair sweet with sweet. That means dessert wines such as Icewines are well suited to a chocolate board.
If you want to stick with a table wine versus a dessert or fortified wine, however, aim for a bottle with some residual sugar, which can often be found in a Merlot, Shiraz or red blend. Since chocolate and wine both contain flavanols, the flavours can clash if you mix a dry, tannic red with a darker, bitter chocolate so look for at least 10g of sugar per litre.
When looking for a wine, also pair like with like. For example, intense dark chocolate will best suit intense, deep, full-bodied wines. This also means that chocolates with nutty or dark berry flavours or ingredients would naturally be well matched with wines possessing those same notes. And for those chocolate-dipped strawberries? Try nibbling on those with an off-dry rosé wine with those same berry notes for a delicious match!