TGRWT #5: Chocolate and meat


Amrita of Le Petite Boulanger has announced the foods to pair for the fifth round: chocolate and meat! And in case you didn’t notice, Dennis has written an excellent summary of the mustard-mint recipes of round four.

I was not able to figure out which odorants actually formed the basis for the mustard-mint pairing (and perhaps there is none… as I’ve touched upon before, some of the data is hard to come at so it’s difficult to check all the entries of my compiled list). At M’s blog however you can find more info on the cold receptors which are triggered by both mint and mustard.

Fortunately data for chocolate and meat is available: odor activity values for cocoa and flavour dilution values for boiled beef and roasted beef. All flavour compounds were ranked and compounds given the same color coding as before. As you can see, there is considerable overlap between chocolate and meat.

(click to enlarge)

And here’s what the molecules that are found both in cocoa and beef look like. Notice that this pairing is dominated by furanones and pyrazines. The molecules are ranked according the the odor activity values in cocoa.



  1. In general on recipes in which game is combined with chocolate [examples can be find here] a very little bit chocolate is used, less then 5% I think. You don’t detect chocolate as such [as a result of sharing flavour compounds?] but it does something to the dish. I wonder if that something could be taste instead of smell. Does taste[s?] of chocolate suppress and/or enhance taste[s] of meat?

  2. This seems to be an almost trivial challenge: I usually add cocoa powder or really dark chocolate almost every time I do a Texas(ish) Chili.

    OTOH, it would seem that I do this to match the chili with the chocolate. It might be interesting to try to poke at chocolate + meat without the capsaicin backup…

  3. Just like Mikael above, my first thoughts went to Mexican mole with carne. It seems like chocolate and meat are a natural pair. Still, it’s interesting (and will continue to be) to see what ‘off the wall’ manifestations of this combination will come from this challenge.
    I also have to throw in the 3rd element of a good red wine, which naturally goes well with meat and chocolate.
    We have had a recurring tendency in our kitchen lately to serve cocoa nibs with meat for texture and flavor. It’s currently on our menu with lamb rack, rosemary mint polenta, and sun-dried cherries.

  4. Mole with Beef is not a very popular dish in Mexico, in fact, i can’t remember the last time i saw that pair in a Restaurant menu. Moles are made with Poultry in mind, even Pork if the ingredients start to get away from Chocolate and move towards seeds and spices.

    This is going to be an interesting challenge.

  5. I made a small tasting dish with small, puff-pastry rounds, baked with prosciutto and topped with a very simple, slightly spicy chocolate sauce. It was a nice trio of flavors – next time I will certainly pair it with a spicy red wine.

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