Ketchup and chocolate, it seems a bit odd, but actually there are chocolate aromas in tomato! When you find the right balance between these ingredients, they form a great pairing.
Let's have a look at the aromatic secret behind this flavour interaction. As you know, Foodpairing always starts from an aroma analysis of ingredients. (Read more about the science behind Foodpairing here). This allows us to look for aroma connections between ingredients, leading to pairings.
When we place the aroma wheel of ketchup next to the one of dark chocolate, we see they have two distinctive aroma directions in common.
Ketchup and dark chocolate share roasted aromas which smell like caramel. Imagine the sweet smell of cotton candy. In a diluted form, this aroma will also smell a bit like strawberry. This makes perfect sense because strawberries share these aromas too and therefore pair well with chocolate or even tomatoes!
There are green aromas — slightly resembling the smell of coriander seeds — present in tomatoes. These are mainly represented by the aroma molecule 'linalool'. The very same green aromas are defining the dark chocolate smell. As explained before, the chocolate flavour is very rich and versatile and consists of many different aroma molecules.
Tomatoes are also rich in umami taste. Umami makes a great variety of foods pleasant, especially in the presence of a matching aroma. Ketchup adds this pleasant savoury taste to dark chocolate and reduces the bitterness.
Foodpairing Impossible challenge - Ketchup & dark chocolate
Old Fashioned cocktail bar in Gent proves ketchup & dark chocolate combine well. As first victim of the Foodpairing Impossible challenge for bartenders, they've accomplished the mission with the "Alcatraz" cocktail.