Cacao Barry® Fleur de Cao and Pepper Ganache Bonbon

Interest in spicy food is on the rise as customers seek new experiences and flavor sensations. They’re willing to experiment with new combinations, and confections are no exception.  For example, several brands transformed their vanilla products this year with cherry, cinnamon, or chili to spice things up. (Nutritional Outlook, 2021 Flavor Trends for Food and Beverage)

Pairing chocolate and chiles is not a revolutionary idea; people have been doing it for centuries! The floral, earthy, and aromatic notes of different chile peppers are a natural match for similar flavors found in chocolate. As more and more different peppers become available, the possibilities for pairing with chocolate expand, as does your opportunity for creativity.

An enrobed bonbon sliced in half, showing red and green layers

Pistachio, Raspberry, Long Pepper, and Lime Bonbons by Marta Martin

Going all-out with the spice from peppers will undoubtedly appeal to some customers, but it’s not necessary to dial up the heat on your confections. The variety of flavor notes found in both chocolate and chiles means chocolatiers can select flavors that enhance and highlight each or choose those that blend well together. Pair a citrusy couverture with chiles that have a strong herbal flavor; choose a bright-tasting chile to lighten up a deep, dark chocolate. Or build connections using similar flavors: enhance a couverture with smokey notes by using chipotle peppers; pair an earthy chocolate with earthy Ancho chiles, then lighten the pairing with citrus or herbs.


Your chile journey is an excellent way to connect with local farmers and try new varieties. They may even be willing to grow a unique variety exclusively for your shop. A local market specializing in Latin American ingredients is another way to explore varieties of chiles, both fresh and dried.

A variety of peppers in many different colors in a large pile

Like chocolate, the various flavor nuances found in peppers can sometimes be quite subtle, so pairing them with just the right chocolate is essential. Keep in mind that while fat can be an excellent carrier of flavors, it can also mask them. So consider different recipes and preparations. For example, a water- or puree-based ganache may work better than one that relies on cream and butter, or that unctuous dairy might be just the thing to tame the heat or carry the flavors of your chosen chile. Experimentation is the key to developing the perfect pepper pairing.

Some like it hot, some like it mild, but everyone is intrigued by a new flavor combination. Whether you’re looking to bring some extra heat to your winter’s hot chocolate or add a subtle perfume to your seasonal summer bonbons, chiles offer endless options for creativity.