Beginners: Flavours that go well together
I am new here but have been browsing this site for awhile now. I finally decided to register today as I have a burning question. I was trying to spice up my Chocolate Banana Protein Shake and considered various options, such as cinnamon and peppermint. However, cinnamon doesn't seem to go with chocolate and I was out of peppermint (Is it a good idea, by the way?). Anyway, I have never received any form of culinary training before, so I am pretty clueless about flavour matching, I am hoping that you guys can tell me some basics or flavours you usually put together. Mainly, I'm interested in what healthy foods go well with chocolate as my protein powder is chocolate and I've been putting it into my cereal and oatmeal.
For reference, here's my very basic protein shake recipe, which I like a lot:
1 frozen banana (chopped up into pieces)
250 ml skim milk
30g chocolate whey protein powder
Lots of ice (It's a little sweet without the ice and the feeling of fullness is nice, so I prefer having it in more volume and less sweetness)
My husband has been making protein shakes with chocolate powder as well. The other day, we were out of bananas, and he tossed in some frozen strawberries. He said it was delicious! Any frozen berries would probably be very good with chocolate.
It's a personal thing so go w/ flavor combinations you like. I don't love cinnamon with chocolate but it's a popular combination a lot of Mexican desserts do that combination so that could work for you. I wouldn't use mint with bananas and chocolate, personally. I'd probably add peanut butter to your smoothie but I love pb. I'd also consider some espresso powder to enhance the chocolate (and a handful of chocolate chips). A dash of cayenne or chipotle to give it some zing--especially with the cold. I'd also use vanilla powder instead of chocolate and add nutmeg.
try coconut extract or unsweetened coconut
crushed pecans or cashews or macadamias or almonds
sugar free preserves
graham crackers (less healthy i know)
When you are trying to figure out flavor combinations in general, I have found that the best way to see if things will taste good together is to smell them together. If they smell good together, chances are they will taste good together as well. Another idea when you are trying to pair flavors is to think about various dishes a certain ingredient is commonly found in and then think about what other flavors are in those dishes as well.
For example, the bananas make me think of things like banoffee pie (toffee, graham cracker crumbs), banana bread (cinnamon, vanilla), banana pudding (nilla wafers) and flavored yogurt (strawberries, blueberries). Many desserts that feature chocolate also have things in them such as caramel, espresso, raspberries, coconut, or orange zest. If you are able to leave out either the chocolate (maybe try a vanilla flavored powder) or the banana, that opens up more options because it is easier to match just one flavor instead of two.
Really, though, the best advice I can give you is to give it a try. Take a chunk of banana or a small piece of chocolate and try nibbling it in combination with other things, until you find something that you like. Have fun!
If you want to learn about flavour pairings beyond this particular shake, I reccommend buying a copy of Culinary Artistry (Dorneburg & Page), which gives lists of flavour pairings for all major ingredients. It's a nice reference guide, and makes for good reading.