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Canape
Everything from cheese plates to canapes can have more zing with flavored cheese. Here, Jalapeno Co-Jack from Loleta Cheese Factory and Emmenthaler are combined with red-leaf lettuce, a pitted olive and a grape tomato on a toasted bread round (first toast, then use a cookie cutter). Photo by Eugene Bochkarev | IST.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

STEPHANIE ZONIS focuses on good foods and the people who produce them.

 

 

April 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Flavored Artisan Cheese: Beyond Smoke & Herbs

Part V: Artisan Cheeses With Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Honey & Sugar

 

 

This is Part V of a six-part article. You can click to the different sections via the yellow box, below.

Sweet Cheeses: Fruited & Chocolate Cheeses

This group of cheeses is sweetened in a variety of ways. Some soft cheeses are sweetened with honey or sugar. Semisoft/semihard cheeses have dried fruit. Both soft and semisoft cheeses can be touched with chocolate and cocoa. You can find pretty much anything among America’s creative artisan cheesemakers.

Wisconsin’s Carr Valley Cheeses makes a Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar that, in their words, tastes like barbecue sauce: sweet with heat on the finish. Don’t want the heat? Get the regular Cranberry Cheddar. Cheddar and fruit are natural pairings. In fact, if you enjoy a piece of Cheddar with your apple pie, try a wedge of cranberry Cheddar.

In Washington, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese offers the perhaps misnamed Blank Slate—not blank and waiting for flavor, but a soft, fresh, spreadable cheese already lightly sweetened with honey (photo at right). Firefly Farms adds honey to its soft, mild goat cheese, but takes things one step further with the additions of ginger and almond, for their Ginger, Almond, and Honey Meadow Chevre.

 

For fans of lemon, California’s Spring Hill Cheese has a Lemon Quark. Quark is another type of soft, unripened, spreadable cheese. Depending on the cheesemaker, it can have the consistency and flavor of sour cream, or can have a more substantial consistency. 

Beecher’s Blank Slate
Beecher’s Blank Slate is a fresh, spreadable
cheese sweetened with honey. It’s also made
in a savory Tapenade version with olives.

As of this writing, I have only been able to find chocolate added to chevre, not to a cows’ milk or sheep’s milk cheese. Perhaps it is because chocolate flavors pair better goat than with cheese from other milks, even in hard cheeses.

As a case in point, Carr Valley’s Cocoa Cardona is an aged goat cheese; the surface of the wheel is rubbed with cocoa powder. The rind turns a lovely brown, the cheese is imbued with a subtle cocoa flavor, and the crowd is wowed: The cheese took First Place honors at the 2004 American Cheese Society Competition, Second Place in 2006 and Best of Class and Overall Second Runner-Up out of 1,000 entries in the 2005 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

Goat Cheese Truffles
Haut Goat’s truffles rolled in an “Aztec blend” or cocoa, cinnamon and chipotle.

Westfield Farm in Massachusetts also was one of the first to recognize the merits of the chocolate-cheese combination. The company has been selling five-ounce logs of Chocolate Capri for sale for several years.

And wait until you try Haute Goat Creamery’s Lockki’s Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles (photo at left). What a great blend of flavors: The exterior is rolled in a blend of cocoa, cinnamon and chipotle. You’ll taste the chocolate, the spices, the cheese and two types of alcohol (Chambord and Champagne), but the blend is so good that no flavor overwhelms any other. This is an old French recipe—THE NIBBLE’s editorial director makes a version. Why don’t we see more of these?

Don’t stop ordering, yet. There’s the Roasted Hazelnut and Frangelico Torte from River’s Edge Chevre in Oregon. This fresh chèvre torte is sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with pure vanilla as well as the marquee ingredients. You can spread it on sweet biscuits, gourmet graham crackers or ginger snaps for a memorable dessert. (Try this recipe for homemade ginger snaps from San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti.)

And the honey- and lavender-flavored Driftless, from Hidden Valley Springs, is a delicately sweet and ethereal, soft, spreadable sheep’s cheese. Buy more than one, because the first will disappear.

 

 

 

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