Choosing between dessert and cheese at the end of a meal is one of life's most difficult dilemmas. Sweet or savory? Sugary or salty? There's never a wrong move, because you can't go wrong with cheese or dessert. But what if there were a better option? What if you didn't have to choose between the two at all? What if you could have them both -- at the same time? But of course! From now on, do the right thing and order cheese with your dessert.
Cheese and dessert pairings are almost better than cheese and wine pairings. If you have the right cheese and the right dessert, the contrasting flavors complement each other so well you'll never want to eat one without the other again. You've probably heard of apple pie and cheddar cheese, but that's just the beginning of cheese and dessert pairings.
We reached out to the experts -- cheesemongers and owners of some of our favorite cheese shops -- to hear the different cheese and dessert combinations they suggest. We heard from Andrew Torren, one of the cheesemakers at Beecher's Handmade Cheese. Torren also leads Beecher's cheese pairing classes in New York, so he knows a thing or two about the subject. We also heard from Charlotte Kamin, owner of Bedford Cheese Shop, and Katie Falconer, the cheese buyer at Stinky Bklyn.
Take it from them: some desserts are practically meant to be eaten with cheese, and vice versa. Here are 12 winning cheese and dessert pairings, recommended by the the pros:
Blue Cheese With Black Forest Cake
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Torren of Beecher's Handmade Cheese
recommends Arethusa Blue from Arethusa Farm & Dairy
in Bantam, Connecticut. As he explains, it's "a perfect pairing of like with like. Both have a delicate balance of chocolate with bright fruit tones. The bold spiciness of the blue cheese helps to cut through the richness of the chocolate cake."
Cheddar Or Gruyere With Lemon Tart
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Everyone knows that cheddar goes well with apple pie, but have you ever thought to put cheddar on a lemon tart? Torren suggests a twist on this classic with a cheddar and gruyere hybrid specially made at Beecher's. If you can't get your hands on that, however, try lemon tart with one or the other, or both! As Torren puts it, "Beecher’s Flagship is a cheddar gruyere hybrid which combines the comforting approachability of a classic American cheddar with the sweet, nuttiness found in Gruyere and alpine style cheeses. Mark Bittman’s recipe for a pan-baked lemon-almond tart has a refreshing sourness that balances out the sweetness of the cheese, but also extenuates the robust nutty flavor that both elements contain."
Gouda With Brownies
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Charlotte Kamin of Bedford Cheese Shop
says they're "big fans of aged goat goudas, like the L'Amuse Brabander or Black Beauty, sliced thinly on a hot brownie." Say no more.
Parmigiano Reggiano With Vanilla Ice Cream
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Kamin also recommends "crumbling some aged Parmigiano into vanilla ice cream." Cheese crumbled into ice cream. DUH!
Triple Crème With Fruit Or Nut Pies
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Kamin is also a fan of triple crème
, which is a spreadable and buttery cheese, with fruit or nut pies, such as pecan or pumpkin. Creamy cheese with creamy pumpkin pie? Yes. Creamy cheese with crunchy pecan pie? Yes again. No need to wait until next Thanksgiving to try this, guys.
Comté With Caramelized Bananas And Walnuts
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Kamin just keeps blowing our minds. She also suggests: "caramelized bananas with walnuts with some grated comté on top." Comté
is a nutty, hard cheese from the Jura Massif region in France. It's made from unpasteurised milk that comes from mountain pasture-fed cows. When you wake up from that idilic French daydream, try some of this renowned cheese with bananas and promptly re-enter the dream.
Blue Cheese With Fortified Dessert Wine
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Katie Falconer of Stinky Bklyn
recommends pairing a Stichelton, "the raw-milk, more traditional version of classic English Stilton," with a glass of sherry -- "preferably a sweeter one, like the Valdespino Pedro Ximenez."
Gouda With Dark Chocolate
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Falconer also suggests "a very aged, butterscotchy Gouda with crunchy protein crystals (like Roomano Pradera) and dark chocolate. Tastes like a grown-up version of a Butterfinger." Did she just say, "tastes like a grown-up Butterfinger?" Did we just die a little inside and run to the cheese shop before finishing this article?
Triple Crème With Gingerbread
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Remember that spreadable and buttery cheese you should eat on fruit and nut pies? The next logical step is eating it on spicy gingerbread. Falconer recommends, "a really soft cow’s milk triple crème (Delice de Bourgogne is basically almost frosting) with a spiced but not-too-sweet gingerbread. Tastes like Christmas." The cheese is the frosting. Good night.
Pecorino Romano With Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
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This makes so much sense it hurts. As Falconer succinctly explains, Pecorino Romano "tends to be very salty." So grating it over dulce de leche ice cream is the "same concept as salted caramel but a really interesting twist!" Yup!
Blue Cheese With Caramel
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The good folks at Murray's Cheese
visited us last spring and completely blew our minds when they told us to spoon some caramel onto blue cheese. A little suspect at first, we tried it, and everything changed after that.
Cheddar With Apple Pie
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It's classic. If you haven't tried cheddar with apple pie, stop what you're doing and fix that mistake. With a seriously sharp cheddar cutting the sweetness of the apples, and the smooth cheesy texture melding with a buttery crust, this combo is one for the books.
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