Chocolate And Rum Are A Pairing That's Meant To Be

There is more to rum than just daiquiris and piña coladas. Often used in tropical cocktails, rum is perhaps taken less seriously than stodgier liquors such as Scotch or whiskey, but it is time to reassess the sugar-cane-based liquor. There is a whole world of rum to explore. Rum varies wildly by taste, color, aging method, country of origin, and even what it is made from, be it molasses or sugar cane juice. All of these differences work to create a liquor that possesses complexities that go beyond its sugary reputation.

One way of embracing this complexity is by thoughtfully pairing rum with food that can help illuminate its less obvious tasting notes. And there is no better pairing for rum than chocolate. The combination may seem like it has already been thoroughly explored in baked goods such as the holiday classic rum balls. But rum and chocolate's chemistry goes beyond confections. Like rum, chocolate is sourced from tropical climates and can vary widely in flavor from cocoa butter-based white chocolate to the floral and bitter notes of dark chocolate. Pairing your rum with chocolate, rather than simply using it as an ingredient, can help you enjoy the complex flavors of both, and understanding which rum to pair with which chocolate is key to fully enjoying the iconic duo.

Making the perfect pairing

Pairing your rum and chocolate is a bit more complicated than simply grabbing a bottle of Captain Morgan's and a Hershey's bar. The two treats do pair well together in general, a nip of rum in a cup of hot chocolate is sure to bring out some caramel notes in your cup, but it's important to keep in mind the varieties of both rum and chocolate in order to create a delicious pairing that helps you get the most out of your bite and sip.

For the best pairings, your rum and chocolate choices should complement each other, bringing out otherwise overlooked complexities in their flavor profiles. Milk chocolate, for example, has perhaps the broadest array of pairings. It balances creaminess with a strong chocolate taste and can handle big flavors. For that reason, milk chocolate can pair well with intense rums like dark rum varieties. You might also want to consider rums made from molasses rather than sugar cane for your milk chocolate, as molasses-based rums, such as many Caribbean rums, tend to offer smoky molasses and caramel notes.

Dark chocolate, on the other hand, pairs well with fruitier rums that are perhaps less intense in their molasses-tasting notes. Porteno Colombian Solera 21-year rum, which features floral and vanilla notes, would make an excellent pairing, for example. White chocolate, on the other hand, can help to mellow out premium-aged rums, which can be intense but are perfect for enjoying on the rocks. 

Ultimately, none of these suggestions are written in stone, and trying a variety of rums and chocolates together can offer you a unique way of fully understanding and enjoying both.

The best of both worlds

If you're going to be sipping your rum alongside a tasting of chocolate, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. First, it might be beneficial to start with a sip of rum, rather than a bight of chocolate. Tasting chocolate first may be tempting, but as with most food and drink pairings, it's important to get an unblemished taste of your drink of choice. Drinking your rum first will allow you to taste the drink without chocolate to muddy up your taste buds.

Additionally, tasting the rum first will help prime your senses to more fully enjoy your chocolate. This practice is in line with other tasting pairings, such as wine and chocolate, which also call for sipping before chewing. It might also be a good idea to try multiple kinds of chocolate, or rum, and compare how each is influenced by different pairings. There is no one right chocolate and rum combination, of course. And exploring the possibilities of their flavor pairings can help you enjoy the complexities of both. Or, if you're not into a focused and intensive tasting session, you can always just keep rum as a mixer for your next extra decadent cup of hot chocolate.