The Chocolate Pairing Guide

February 16 2014

Valentine’s Day may be over, but we whole-heardedly believe that chocolate is appropriate any day of the year. As is a strong cocktail or a stronger cup of coffee. Lucky for us, our friends at Badminton Chocolate Co. put together this drool-inducing pairing guide, finding the perfect chocolate-beverage marriages we’ve ever seen.


First, we talk to photographer and chocolatier Ellie Arciaga, the superwoman behind Seattle-based Badminton Chocolate Co, about all things chocolate.

How did Badminton Chocolate come about?

Badminton is proof that silver lining stories happen every day. It all began last spring, when my best friend Lauren was diagnosed with cancer. She asked me to join her in an unconventional act of solidarity during her treatment; I adopted her new, superfood based anti-cancer diet. This meant eliminating refined sugar, becoming gluten free, and going vegan. But, what was I supposed to do about my insatiable sweet-tooth? After a week, I tried my hand at making salted peanut butter cups, within the diet’s parameters, and lo and behold, Badminton’s signature recipe was born. The first batch I made tasted better to me than regular chocolate. And the rest, as they say, is recent history.

What do you love about what you do?

Working as a lifestyle photographer, I had gotten used to predictable creative cycles, and running laps in the same design circles. It was rewarding, to say the least, but Badminton has given me a chance to get involved in the Seattle food community, and tap into other realms creatively. Brand identity and marketing strategy have always interested me, so building a chocolate company from the ground up has been a challenge that I have embraced with a great big bear hug.

I also love coming up with a seasonal truffle every month, and allowing my palate take the reigns. When I finally nail down a flavor, I’m simultaneously excited and self-conscious…taste is completely subjective thing. I mean, really. But, I’ve learned to trust my instincts, and they have yet to steer me wrong…knock on wood.


What are the most unexpected (and awesome!) flavor combinations you’ve found?

Every time I make a batch of our Hazelnut Cardamom Truffles, it is a true test of self-discipline for me not to eat every last one. I came up with the combination as a way of paying homage to winter’s best flavors, and it has become our most popular truffle! Before this, I had never really worked with cardamom in the kitchen, but I love that it puts such a tasty spin on the usual chocolate and hazelnut coupling. One customer told me, “It tastes like cozy.” I’d have to agree!

What advice would you give an aspiring chocolatier?

Don’t be afraid to test the boundaries of taste; be daring when it feels right. Also, don’t buy light colored tea towels or aprons to use in the kitchen. After the first batch, they will look like they are smeared with mud, which is gross. Stick with dark browns, the chocolate will blend in. ;)


The Badminton Chocolate Co Pairing Guide:

“I liked the idea of putting together a little chocolate pairing guide for Valentine’s Day that was more practical than just a long list of red wines. Chocolate is a lot more versatile than people think; it can enhance the notes and flavors in your morning coffee, or your favorite nightcap cocktail. Though we used Badminton’s truffles as examples, we have listed the strongest notes in each one so that you can easily use the pairing suggestions with chocolate that is similar. Enjoy!”


Coffee Pairings: Analog Coffee, Seattle, WA. I got a chance to spend an afternoon talking pairings with the gentlemen behind Analog Coffee in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. They proudly serve Herkimer Coffee’s beans, a small roastery that happens to be a local favorite.

Pairing #1: Lavender Truffle with a Guatemala Pixcaya Roast 


Lavender Truffle: Our base truffle recipe is made with single-origin Peruvian cacao, which boasts a rich, earthy flavor. The addition of lavender and it’s delicate floral tones makes this treat quite a tasteful juxtaposition.

Strongest Notes: Earthy, lavender floral

Guatemala Pixcaya, San Juan: We paired a pour over of Herkimer’s medium-bodied Guatemalan Roast with our Lavender Truffle. Hints of candied lemon rounded out the floral notes in the truffle, while the roast’s caramel and milk chocolate flavor enhanced the earthiness of our Peruvian cacao.

Strongest Notes: Candied lemon, caramel, milk chocolate

Pairing #2: Hazelnut Cardamom Truffle with an El Salvador El Manzano Roast 


Hazelnut Cardamom TruffleWe took all of our favorite flavors of winter, and wrapped them up in our earthy dark chocolate to make our Hazelnut Cardamom Truffle.  The harmonious marriage of these rustic and complex flavors is delightful.

Strongest Notes: Hazelnut, Cardamom, Earthy


El Salvador El Manzano, Santa Ana: This medium-bodied El Salvador Roast did well as a pour over to pair with our Hazelnut Cardamom Truffle. Once again, there is a strong presence of citrus, with orange at the forefront, which playfully interacts with the cardamom notes in the truffle. The roast’s flavors of peanut and caramel, similar to peanut brittle, envelop the hazelnut and earthy tones in the dark chocolate.

Strongest Notes: Orange, peanut, caramel, rooibos

Craft Cocktail Pairings: E. Smith Mercantile and 3 Howls Distillery. For the cocktail portion of the guide, we have two tasty craft cocktail recipes that were drawn up especially for this occasion. They’re the perfect excuse to whip up something special for your Valentine this year.


Pairing #1: “The Love Affair”, by E. Smith Mercantile with our Hazelnut Cardamom Truffle. Jessie, the purveyor of E. Smith, a lovely little mercantile in Pioneer Square, is a visionary with great taste and a big heart. Not only does she curate and run the shop with her talented mother and sister, but she is also the mistress of their well-appointed Back Bar, which serves libations reminiscent of the Prohibition-era, with rustic infusions and top shelf liquors. She was sweet enough to put together “The Love Affair”, a deliciously light citrus cocktail, to pair with our Hazelnut Cardamom Truffle. If you’re ever in Seattle, stop by, order one, and sit a spell while Jessie’s tending bar.

The Love Affair (serves 2)

2 oz. Rainwater Madeira (or a Madeira of your choice)
2 oz. Casoni 1814
2 oz. grapefruit juice
2 thin grapefruit slices for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with 4 to 5 ice cubes. Add Rainwater Madeira, Casoni 1814, and grapefruit juice. Shake vigorously until shaker is frosty and cold. Strain into a glass, and cut a thin slice of grapefruit. Garnish and enjoy.


Pairing #2: “The Tomboy” by Badminton Chocolate Co. featuring 3 Howls Distillery with our Lavender Truffle. I was able to stop by the 3 Howls Distillery, and take a little tour of their place, with its tall metal stills, and rows of wood barrels. They specialize in craft spirits, and tasteful infusions, my favorite being their Rosemary Infused Vodka, that has a twist of citrus to mingle with the herbal notes. They also boast of a robust Single Malt Whiskey, with notes of roasted vanilla, caramel, and chocolate malt, with a finish similar to a light scotch. They gave me a little bit of each to play around with, and I combined them with a sweet and earthy concoction by Bittermilk, the No. 2 Flavor, which is their twist on a Tom Collins, with strong notes of elderflower and hops. And, voilà! “The Tomboy” was born; delicate, earthy, with a knack for playing outside in the grass until dusk. Perfect with our Lavender Truffle.

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The Tomboy (serves 2)

2 oz. 3 Howls Rosemary Vodka
2 oz. 3 Howls Single Malt Whiskey (or Scotch of your choice)
3 oz. Bittermilk No. 2 Elderflower and Hops (or substitute your favorite Tom Collins recipe with an elderflower simple syrup)
1 Splash of Seltzer Water
2 rosemary sprigs for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice cubes. Add 3 Howls Rosemary Vodka, 3 Howls Single Malt Whiskey (or scotch of your choice), and Bittermilk No. 2. Shake vigorously until shaker is frosty and cold. Strain into a glass, add a splash of seltzer to each, and throw in sprig of rosemary. Garnish and enjoy.


Photos and pairing by Ellie Arciaga. Visit Badminton Chocolate Co. for more.