During the holidays many of us like to make, give and/or receive pastries and chocolates. But what do we pair them with? Tea or coffee? Yes those are what most people do, but how about wine? I took up that idea and visited Chef Hodge at Temper Chocolate & Pastry to get a sample of pastries and chocolates for me to try with a few wines that I think may make good pairings.
- a stollen
- ginger cookie
- chocolate covered peppermint sticks
- shortbread cookies
- raspberry Linzer cookies
- vegan chocolates
- rum balls
- candied pecans
That is quite a variety, and I really appreciated the time I spent talking with Chef Hodge about how his background, and how he started off as a pastry chef and expanded to include chocolatier.
I wondered which wines I may want to try with these items from Temper Chocolate & Pastry and settled on 3 wines:
- Singletree Winery Late Harvest Frontenac Gris 2014 from Abbotsford, BC
- St. Remy Extra Old Reserve Privee Cognac from France
- Graham’s 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port from Portugal
The Singletree Winery Late Harvest Frontenac Gris 2014 has lots of ripe apricot aroma as well as flavour on the palate. it is medium sweet with higher acidity and some pepperiness. The wine does not feel too heavy in your mouth. You get some apple and apricot skin flavour on the finish. It does finish dry. I really enjoyed the flavour of this wine and that it is not overly sweet. I actually prefer Late Harvest wines over icewines.
The St Remy Extra Old Reserve Privee Cognac had a burnt sugar aroma. Medium body, with intense flavours of brown sugar and pepper and dried stone fruits. The alcohol content made the cognac quite hot.
The Graham’s 2012 Late Bottled Vintage Port had lighter blackberry aromas. It was lighter bodied, but medium plus on sweetness. Medium acidity to balance with the sweetness of the wine. The wine is round with blackberries and pepperiness on the palate and finishes dry with some tannins.
The Pastry Pairings
I started off my pairings by tasting 4 of the pastries: the palmier, canelé, Raspberry Linzer (jam-filled) cookie, and a shortbread cookie.
This is a French pastry in a palm leaf shape or a butterfly shape. The puff pastry is made with alternating layers of dough and butter that are rolled and folded over creating many flaky layers. The puff pastry is rolled out, coated with sugar, then the two sides are rolled up together so that they meet in the middle forming the palm leaf shape. The roll is then cut into thin slices and baked.
My palmier indeed had many thin layers of crispy layers and sticky edges from the sugar. It was very light with toasty and roasted butter flavour.
The Late Harvest wine provided a complementary pairing. I still was able to get the crunch from the palmier, but the combination tasted like I had buttered toast with apricot jam. Delicious. My recommended pairing.
The Cognac with the higher alcohol content and pepperiness overpowered the palmier.
The Port was my second favourite pairing. I was able to enjoy the crunchiness of the palmier and the toast, and some light fruit flavours from the port.
“A canelé is a small French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It takes the shape of small, striated cylinder up to five centimeters in height with a depression at the top.” Wikipedia
I had not had a chance to try this pastry ever before. Chef Hodge told me how he makes his canelé, which takes longer than it normally takes if you read some recipes online.
I really enjoyed tasting this pastry. It had a smoky rum aroma. Thick crunchy outside; caramel flavoured. A light and creamy custard filling that was medium sweet.
The Late Harvest wine pairing had the apricot flavour quite prominent, as well the canelé’s caramel flavour, and was complimentary. I also enjoyed how the acidity of the wine combined with the semi-sweet creaminess of the custard. My recommended pairing.
The Cognac flavour was too strong for this pastry. It almost was able to hold its own, but not quite.
The Port flavours shone in this pairing and went nicely with the creamy custard texture. Red cherry flavours popped as I ate the caramelized exterior of the canelé. Also a recommended pairing.
Raspberry Linzer Cookie
A cookie made with two layers of an oatmeal biscuit, and between a layer of jam. I quite enjoyed this cookie, in part due to the texture of the cookie; not crumbly but soft to bite. The cookie showed sweet spices, ginger, and red fruit flavours, as well as the flavour and texture from the oatmeal.
With the Late Harvest wine pairing your get most of the apricot flavour from the wine and little of the red fruit flavour from the cookie. An OK pairing.
The alcoholic heat from the Cognac was yet again too strong for this cookie. I could only get texture from the cookie.
The Port worked well with this cookie. The sweet red fruit jam of the cookie paired nicely with the red fruit port flavours. My recommended pairing.
This is an amazing whipped shortbread cookie that also has some coconut added to it. This cookie is soft, but not crumbly. Buttery with light sugar on top to give a hint of crunch. My favourite cookie.
The Late Harvest wine worked nicely with the cookie. I enjoyed the stone fruit flavour of the wine with the coconut flavour from the cookie, plus the texture of the cookie. Very complimentary. My favourite pairing.
The Cognac and the Port were both too strong in flavour for this delicate cookie.
After tasting the above cookies, I decided that overall the Cognac was not a good pairing, so the remaining pastries and chocolates I tasted only with the Late Harvest wine and the Port.
I like a ginger cookie that doesn’t fall apart when you bite into it; this cookie was soft and pliable, the way I like it. I enjoyed the aromas of light molasses and ginger from the cookie. It had a fine texture with fresh, light intensity ginger spice. I think the ginger was freshly grated for this cookie. I also enjoyed the taste of butter toward the finish on this cookie. A tasty cookie.
The Late Harvest wine pairing gave you a taste of gingered apricot, which was a super combination. The acidity in the wine also interacts with the cookie so it does not taste too sweet. This pairing is slightly better than the port pairing, but I did also like the port pairing.
With the Port pairing you get plum and cherry flavours from the port, then some spicy hotness, which I attribute in part to the alcohol in the port and part of the ginger. The pepperiness of this cookie is very noticeable in this pairing.
A Stollen is a German is a fruitcake made of nuts, spices, dried or candied fruit, and coated with powdered sugar. It is not as dense as the Christmas fruitcakes you get in Canada, and it is also not soaked in rum, as some are here. This stollen was dense as I cut into it. You could say the texture is al dente. I enjoyed the smell of the candied fruit. The stollen is firm in texture, without being dry. Not too sweet either. I enjoyed the texture and the chewy fruits and sweet spice flavour. The stollen had an orange flavour at the end together with some nuttiness. Lots of great flavours and texture.
The Late Harvest wine makes the Stollen feel more luscious in your mouth. The apricot flavour from the wine is very pronounced. You also get some acidity from the wine, making the Stollen’s flavours brighter. Wunderbar.
The cherry flavour from the Port stands out. You still get the firm texture from the Stollen, but I did not note much from the fruits in the Stollen. Not a bad pairing, but the Late Harvest was better.
The Chocolate Pairings
Chocolate Covered Peppermint Sticks
Having a hand-made dark chocolate covered peppermint stick is a treat. The peppermint filling is sweet with a grainy texture. The peppermint is strong, but it is tamed in part from the dark chocolate coating. I was initially worried that no wine I taste could work with peppermint, but I was wrong. Both wines made suitable pairings.
With the Late Harvest wine, the apricot flavour and sweetness in the wine toned down the peppermint, and allowed you to also enjoy the dark chocolate flavour as well as the apricot fruit. My recommended pairing.
The Port also toned down the peppermint flavour to start, but then as the red fruit flavours from the Port faded, the pepperiness of the peppermint came back on the finish.
Dark Chocolate Covered Rum Balls
This dark chocolate and powdered sugar coated rum ball has a creamy centre with light rum flavour. The creamy centre is not too sweet, but you also get some sweetness in the chocolate exterior.
The Late Harvest wine had a nice flavour combination between the rum, apricot and dark chocolate flavours. Apricot is the strongest flavour to start but it fades and it finishes with dark chocolate flavour. Nice.
With the Port pairing, you get red cherry flavour from the Port and dark chocolate flavour from the rum ball. An OK pairing.
I was given two flavours of vegan chocolates to taste. One to me tasted like cherries and caramel, while the other was citrus and coconut. Both had a “caramel” layer which I think may be made from coconut milk, as the chocolates are vegan and would not have milk as an ingredient. I did not ask Chef Hodge about this.
The Late Harvest wine went best with the Citrus Coconut chocolate. I enjoyed the mix of citrus and apricot flavours. The Port I think went better with the cherry chocolate as the port’s cherry flavours complemented the cherry and dark chocolate flavours of the chocolate and the caramel.
These are not chocolates, but I thought would fit better in the chocolate section of this article. The pecans are quite crunchy and medium black pepper and/or cayenne spiced. If you are not into spicy foods, I would not suggest trying these pecans. After tasting a few in a row, the spice does build in your mouth.
Both the Late Harvest wine and the Port made OK pairings. The pepperiness of the candied pecans was a bit too strong for these wines. The pepperiness toned down the apricot and the red fruit flavours. The apricot flavour lasted till you finished the pecan, while the red fruit flavours did not.
The Overall Best Wine Pairing
I hope you enjoyed my wine and pastry & chocolate pairings. Overall the Singletree Late Harvest Frontenac Gris from Abbotsford makes a very good overall pairing for any of the above pastries and chocolates. I think this wine is sold out, but they also make a Late Harvest Kerner, which you may want to try. Feel free to try other BC Late Harvest wines as well.