Thursday, February 10, 2011

Like Cheddar for Chocolate

Happy almost Valentine's Day!!!!

Do you dream? Do you remember your dreams? Do you dream romantic color?
Right now I'm back in creative mode and coming up with new book ideas, and when I'm in that mode, I dream...big-time. Wild dreams. Colorful dreams.

Did you see the movie, Like Water for Chocolate? It was also a debut novel for Spanish author Laura Esquivel, but I saw the movie. It was luscious. Like one big colorful dream dance. I was dreaming ABOUT that movie as I woke this morning and thought wouldn't that be a perfect thing for Valentine's Day. I'd talk about an experiment I've been doing that's delicious and colorful and luscious.

I've been testing cheddars. From everywhere. Vermont, Utah, Cheshire, England, and more. And then I stumbled on an article about pairing chocolate with wine and I thought, brilliant. I'll pair cheese with chocolate. [You choose your own wine, though I'll suggest two.]

So here's my Valentine's tribute. A tasting of cheddars and wine and chocolates that should make your palate go ZING.

Cheshire Appleby is, according to the Cowgirl Creamery Library of Cheese, one of the oldest recipes for cheddar, dating back to the 12th century Romans. It's crumbly and pleasant, mild.

Hook's Ten-Year Cheddar is made by college sweethearts in Wisconsin. It's sharp, rich, deep orange, and perhaps the best cheddar I've ever tasted.

Beehive's Old Joe's Cajun Cheddar is zesty. A white cheddar with spices around the perimeter giving eat morsel a bite.

Belton Farms Oak Smoked Cheddar is rich in flavor and history. The smokiness adds a particularly distinct taste. The farm is located in Shropshire, England.

Tickler Cheddar is the whitest cheese. It is made from Devon milk in Taw Valley, Cheshire, England. Its forty-pound blocks are aged a full 18 months, during which the tangy taste develops. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a lemony finish.

And for the chocolate, I stayed with dark chocolates, to give every bite a fair tasting.

Ghirardelli 60%, deep, rich.

Hershey's dark chocolate, softer, mellow.

Lindt's 70%, deep in color, almost dry and tart to the taste.

Dove chocolates, pretty in their wrappers, delicious and one of my favorites.

Godiva 60%, the smoothest, creamiest of the bunch.

For the white wine, I served up Talbott Farms: Kali Hart (from the Monterey Valley in California). It is a delicious chardonnay. Rich, with hints of citrus, and a fruit forward (as the vintners say) aroma.

For the red wine, I chose Estancia Pinot Noir. It's a soft, smoky pinot that doesn't overpower either of our delicacies. Hints of berries, vanilla and plum.

Results: The combination of chocolate and cheese was so much fun. Almost like having chocolate cheesecake. My guests enjoyed it as an appetizer and as a dessert course. Surprisingly, the smoked cheddar tasted good with chocolate. I wasn't expecting it to. The milder Cheshire Appleby tasted the best. The Tickler, with its lemony finish, didn't do it for me, though I love the cheese all by itself. The spicy Beehive added an interesting flavor. And the Hook's cheddar was almost too strong for the chocolate and might have done better with a milk chocolate. Of course, all of this is according to individual taste.

After sampling everything, I found my appetite fully satisfied. But if you're in the mood to cook, here are a few links to previous Valentine's recipes from the Mystery Lovers Kitchen authors:

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

May love and joy fill your world. you dream?


A SNEAK PREVIEW and BOOK TRAILER of LOST AND FONDUE is now up on my website. Click here. If you'd like to know more about A Cheese Shop Mystery series and want to download a few other recipes from me (on recipe cards), click on this link to my website: Avery Aames. I've posted recipes in the "morsels" section. There's lots of other fun stuff, as well.

And sign up for the mailing list to get in on the next contest...coming every two weeks as I approach the launch of L&F in May.

Say cheese!


  1. You just described the perfect plate for me and Chris. He's the chocolate, I'm the cheese. I do think the white sparkling grape juice would be best for this (since we don't drink wine).

  2. Thank you for the different cheeses and chocolates and their descriptions! That's like a tasty cheat sheet for putting together tastes. :) I'm clipping out this post for reference!

  3. Shel - of course, white sparkling grape juice. What a delicious choice! Thanks for the suggestion.

    Elizabeth ~ there are all sorts of cheat sheets on Google. You can look up any cheese, any chocolate. I didn't. I prefer tasting. LOL But it is nice to know that you can look up the suggestion of what cheese or chocolate or even wine will taste like before you purchase.

    Best to all.

  4. Interesting. Will have to try this. I remember (a stretch!)back when our kids were in pre-school, one of the mom's in our coffeeklatch group made a fudge recipe that called for Velveeta. (I said it was a long time ago!)

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  5. Yum - I'm loving this! I just posted on that cheddar is my favorite of the cheeses, and obviously anything with chocolate is good.

    I need to get myself to a good cheese shop this weekend so I can give this a go. Printing your list right now. :)

  6. Wow. Love, love, love this post, Avery. Your cheese "classes" here and in your books have inspired me to try more. I love sampling cheese with wine, and chocolate with wine. But I never thought about cheese and chocolate. Ooh, a whole new world!

  7. I thought of you yesterday when my cheese lady introduced me to a goat cheese gouda! It's fabulous!

    I love your platter of cheese and chocolate. There's something for everyone.

    ~ Krista

  8. This is brilliant, Avery, and a completely new idea to me. A chocolate and cheese (and wine) tasting party for Valentine's Day is one sweet thought! Thank you for all of the suggestions. I love your equating the experience to eating chocolate cheesecake, and I'm especially eager to find and taste the Cheshire Appleby - one of the oldest cheddars. Fascinating!

    Happy (almost) Valentine's Day to you, too! :)
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. I need to find a cheese-chocolate tasting class soon.

  10. Dru, LOL. A Cheese-cholocating tasting class. Hmm, do you think they might have one at a Williams Sonoma? Maybe I'll suggest it at my local cheese shop.

    Cleo ~ the Cheshire is delightful. Very crumbly, but a luscious taste.

    Krista ~ I saw your Killer Characters post re: gouda and responded. Loved that I got to post on both today and sort of bring one to the other. Because Killer Characters is all about "love" too. :)

    Terry - thanks for the tweet on this! Glad you're game for new things. Velvetta fudge. Hmmm. I might try a twist on that. I'll keep you posted.

    Julie - the "classes" are classes I'm teaching myself. A learn as you go series, I have to admit. Write what you know...or what you want to know. And then research!

    Hugs to all and thanks for your comments. Say cheese!


  11. A really new and intriguing idea to combine chocolate and cheddar this way. I'm going to look up some of these cheeses and give it a try.

    Thanks, Avery!!

  12. Harbingerdc - so good to see you here! Glad you're going to give it a try. I have to admit it was a delicious, decadent experiment that I will serve again and again.


  13. I love this idea, Avery! Two of my favorite foods together - my friends will think they've died and gone to heaven.

  14. What great suggestions! Also, thanks for the movie tip. Looking forward to trying all!

  15. Mary Jane and Erika, so nice to hear from you.

    MJ - yes, died and gone to heaven is a close description. LOL

    Erika, I hope you enjoy the movie!