Valentines Day, Easter and Mother’s Day are just around the corner. Few gifts speak of these upcoming occasions like fine chocolate. We are fortunate to have our own local family business, DeBrand Fine Chocolates, recognized among the elite producers in the world.
Over a decade ago, I orchestrated and conducted a fun seminar featuring a selection of DeBrand chocolates paired with regional and international wines. As I began to re-create that evening, I thought of the bounty we have locally. Our wineries, breweries and distilleries produce excellent hand-crafted items which can pair beautifully with chocolates. Here are my suggestions…
Two EE’s Winery, Marquette ($15) – Locally grown. The Marquette grape produces some of the finest dry red varietal wines grown in our area. With a faint Concord grape aroma, flavors of red raspberry, blackberry and red currant fold together nicely on the palate with medium body, soft tannins and well-balanced acidity.
Chapman’s Brewing Co., Englishman Brown Ale ($10/4 pk. 16 oz. cans) – Toasty aromas of roasted coffee beans with a hint of cocoa powder are supported with like flavors, delicate, well integrated hops and a whisper of fig jam in the finish.
Our newest local entry Edwin Coe Spirits, Old Coe, “Indiana sour mash distilled from grain and cane” ($35) – At 89 proof it’s quite assertive by itself. 2 oz., in a rocks glass over two ice cubes (automatic icemaker, half-moon style, ½ oz. water each) yields a 2 to 1 “whiskey to water” ratio after melting. Upon the pour, opulent aromas of butterscotch fill the air. Warm flavors of butterscotch and caramelized malted grains precede a delicate honeyed finish.
From DeBrand Chocolates – The 4 pc. Classic gold favor box ($9) containing the most popular pieces from their Classic Collection, the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream, Rose Carmella, European Heart and Mocha Cream.
Beginning with the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream “Pure, tart raspberry cream and juice surrounded by dark chocolate,” it was no surprise that the berry-driven Marquette and the cocoa laced Englishman would complement this beautifully. While the raspberry wasn’t best suited for the Old Coe, the butterscotch notes still made an interesting play with the other flavors.
The Rose Carmella — “Soft, liquid caramel, a hint of rose water, in milk chocolate” —however, proved to be a beautiful marriage to the butterscotch and honey notes of the Old Coe. The Englishman was a lovely match as well, perfectly balancing the pairing in every way. While the Marquette‘s berry notes began a bit sharp, the other flavors all came together nicely with this chocolate, demonstrating why the influence of oak (which adds caramel and vanilla notes to wine) is so important in winemaking.
The European Heart — “Pure milk chocolate blended with finely ground hazelnuts to make a silky smooth consistency with a nutty taste” — paired perfectly with the Marquette, showing magical balance of flavors and textures. While the Englishman‘s flavors were complementary, it was surprisingly a little overpowering. The honeyed traits of the Old Coe and the creamy smooth chocolate’s hazelnut happily elevated each other’s subtle strength. Nice!
The Mocha Cream — “Smooth chocolate-coffee cream surrounded by dark chocolate” — was truly wonderful with all three beverage selections. Those who don’t drink coffee, but like the aroma, might even enjoy these pairings!
Support our excellent local artisans... hard working people we may know personally or not. You never know who is going to build the next global chapter in our community’s legacy. Cheers!
All photos, along with descriptions, for the chocolates are printed with the permission of DeBrand Fine Chocolates. Other photos, permission and assistance greatly appreciated from Steph at Two EE’s Winery, Micah at Chapman’s Brewing Co. and Joe at Edwin Coe Spirits.