At one time or another, we have all tried the tested-and-trusted cheese board pairings. Red wine, grapes, crackers, and charcuterie are traditional partners for cheeses from blue to cheddar. These straightforward pairings are quite acceptable, although they can become monotonous. Need some new suggestions? There is a technique for making ideal cheese board pairings that are not only delectable but also add interest to your table and make an impression on your guests. According to Sydney Willcox, a former cheesemonger and cheese trainer who works for Restaurant Associates, there are three ways to make cheese pairings that go beyond the fundamentals. According to Willcox, “a smart combination will take the flavors of each item and increase that by 10.”
“A solid pairing will yield so much more richness than a single item would,” The owner of Philly Cheese School and cheesemonger Julia Birnbaum says, “A smart pairing creates something bigger than the sum of its parts.” That is to say, she explains, “it’s not simply about consuming two or more delicious items together; it’s about mixing flavors in a way that enhances each one to do something new and distinct than it would accomplish alone.”Willcox asserts that the first step in creating a successful match is to concentrate on contrasts like sweet and salty. In the presence of conflict, she continues, “each food’s main flavors might take a backseat, letting the more delicate flavors come through.” A creamy cheese is fantastic with a crunchy cracker, and harder cheeses are better with chewy bread, according to the important matching notion of contrast in flavor and texture.
Consider what complements the cheese flavor as another strategy for finding food pairings. Look for a recognizable flavor note in the cheese and match that note like for like when it comes to combining harmoniously, advises Willcox. “Take smoked cheese and bacon or a nutty Gruyére and roasted almonds,” she said. The key factor to remember when making pairings is to enjoy the process. Birnbaum creates her pairings based on her nearly ten years of working with cheese, although she asserts that “The best combinations result from a playful mood where we simply take items from the shelves to explore how they taste when combined and don’t take anything too seriously.” Making sure that the flavor intensities correspond is the last factor to take into account when developing cheese pairings. In Birnbaum’s opinion, the biggest coupling snoozer is when one product completely overpowers the other, and you can only taste that. In search of some interesting cheese combinations to try at home? Experts and educators in cheese offer their recommendations.
Aged cheddar and peanut butter
According to Willcox, “the peanut butter and cheddar interact in harmony, sharing a nuttiness and toffee notes.” “You may mimic the crunchy crystallization in old cheddar by using crunchy peanut butter.” A sandwich with aged cheddar, peanut butter, and jelly is another suggestion she made. For the same reason, home chef Chantelle Malarkey enjoys spreading peanut butter and sharp cheddar on crackers.
Chocolate milk and spicy cheese
According to Galer, the milk chocolate’s sweet and mild flavors go nicely with the medium-to-intensely spicy cheese. The sweetness of the chocolate milk chocolate lessens the heat from the habanero cheese. The combination of ghost pepper cheese and chocolate milk is equally delicious, but it’s not for the weak of the heart.
Gouda and Payday Candy Bar
“The caramel notes of the [Payday] offer a fantastic balance to the savory notes in the cheese,” says Molly Browne, a seasoned cheese instructor for Wisconsin Cheese. “Additionally, the peanuts give additional textural balance, says Brown. The overall result has a peanut butter cheesecake-like flavor.”
Fresh Cheese and Pickled Vegetable
According to Willcox, mixing feta, cottage, mascarpone, or quark with pickled vegetables is a perfect example of matching like with like. Because some cheeses are more acidic than others, they go well with pickled vegetables, including carrots, string beans, okra, cornichons, and beets.
Aged cheddar and Chocolate covered espresso beans
A mature cheddar is a flavor bomb, according to Brown. “Espresso beans that have been dipped in chocolate share a similar flavor profile that is simultaneously bitter, crunchy, and sweet. Combine the two for an unforgettable sensory experience.”
Crispy Fried Bacon and Feta
Like bacon, feta has a salty taste. With the creamy and tangy qualities of each cheese boosting the savory and meaty flavor of the bacon, they combine for an even saltier flavor punch, according to Galer.
Fresh chevre and sour gummy worms
Birnbaum enjoys this pairing because the soft goat cheese’s “tangy, brilliant flavor” combines with the “over-the-top sweetness and tartness of the sour gummy worms” to produce a successful novel pairing. Even though gummies and cheese are rarely combined, Birnbaum believes they complement each other thanks to their different textures. Additionally, it looks “very great on a cheese board,” adds Birnbaum.
Hard-boiled eggs and sharp cheddar
Because both aged cheddar and cooked eggs have a sulfur flavor that gives them each their distinct flavor, medium- and sharp cheddar and sliced hard-boiled eggs make a fantastic pairing, according to Chad Galer, a microbiologist and vice president of product research and food safety at Dairy Management Inc. He explains, “The cheesy flavors and eggs perfectly complement one another.”
Blue cheese and dark chocolate
According to Willcox, dark chocolate fudge, double chocolate cookies, and blue cheese work well together because the sweetness and mild bitterness of the chocolate counterbalance the funk and salt in the blue cheese. This match won’t work with milk chocolate since the sweetness will overshadow the cheese.