The first time I heard that Sancho (also spelled Sansho) pepper was coyly hiding in chocolate ganache I thought I'd give it a pass. Pepper and chocolat? Not a good idea, right?! I was expecting a gritty consistency but when I let it MELT on my tongue at Les Trois Chocolats in the Marais it was pleasantly smooth as silk with a tangy citrus flavored black pepper taste mid palate that blew me away. Apparently, Sancho is like Sichuan pepper, i.e. in the family of false or flag peppers that aren't truly in the pepper family. Definitely not as numbingly hot as Sichuan pepper, like at the amazing and popular spicy noodle restaurant voted the best noodles in France in 2016 at Trois Fois Plus de Piment.
My PCG guests are also usually a bit hesitant initially, but when I promise them that bonbons containing cherry blossoms, grilled black tea leaves, miso and rose petals may follow, they go along for the ride. Yes, Les Trois Chocolats is a Japanese chocolate chef and she brings Japanese inspired ingredients to her artisanal Paris chocolate kitchen. Her grandfather brought the art of French chocolate back to Japan decades ago but said she wanted to modernize her father and grandfather's traditional French chocolate recipes.
EdwarT chocolatier also has a bonbon called Bush Sauvage that contains a Tasmanian and Madagascar black pepper combination. This pepper flavor is more pronounced than at Les Trois Chocolats and both peppers are act like a wave alternating between the two very distinct pepper flavors. I'm finding that these dark chocolate bonbons pair well with French Syrah wines that are themselves peppery by nature.
To my friend's birthday dinner on Thursday I took some Saint-Nectaire cheese with Sancho I got at Taka et Vermo fromagerie around the corner from my apartment. The French dinner guests were a bit weary of my American adventurous spirit in the cheese selection as well (not many French folks like spicy food), but everyone loved it.
For the Love of Chocolate