Think outside the candy box for Valentine's Day this year. Nat Sherman has suggested some cigar and chocolate pairings to make February 14, 2013 a little more special. Like excellent wine and handcrafted cigars, fine chocolate contains a tremendous range of flavors depending on the type, percentage of cacao, country of origin and additional ingredients.
"Cigars are a wonderful accompaniment to chocolate. Chocolate's density makes it able to stand up to even the strongest cigars," says Nat Sherman's cigar pairings expert, Michael Herklots. Since chocolate-like notes are common in cigars, it's easy to overdo it. Here are some guidelines for pairing Nat Sherman cigars with chocolates.
Since it is always combined with milk or cream, milk chocolate offers an indulgent buttery flavor that generally offers a "rounder" cocoa profile and a heavier, more lingering finish. Try a Nat Sherman Gotham East Side, a perfectly medium-bodied cigar, to accompany milk chocolate. The chocolate's body is heavier, but the cigar's slight spiciness will come through, as will some of the nutty and herbaceous notes. The Nat Sherman Gotham East Side is $9-13.
For dark chocolates or bittersweet chocolates, which combine at least 35 percent chocolate liquor with cocoa butter and sugar, opt for a Nat Sherman Timeless Collection from Nicaragua. The cigar's body will dominate over the chocolate since the actual cocoa flavor of the chocolate is intense and often linear, which can create a drying effect on the palate. Timeless has some chocolate and some coffee notes and the slight earthiness rounds out this pairing perfectly. The Nat Sherman Timeless Collection is $8.50-12.
Unsweetened chocolate or baking chocolate is made of 100 percent chocolate liquor formed into a bar and does not incorporate any sugar at all, providing a great opportunity for pairing since the chocolate lacks sweetness. The Nat Sherman Metropolitan Maduro has a fermented wrapper, which creates more sugars in the leaf and adds a subtle sweet flavor to the smoke. It has a mild to medium body and contains elements reminiscent of roasted nuts, a great complement to the chocolate. The Nat Sherman Metropolitan Maduro is $8.