Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolate and Cheese?

No, I am not talking about the Ween album, but it is a good one.
If you have ever enjoyed a Chocolate cheesecake then you have experienced the flavor combination of chocolate combined with cheese. Many chocolatiers have began to add brie or blue cheese to their truffles and some offer chocolate cheese fudge. A Chocolate cheese called Chesdale has even gained popularity in Taiwan of all places.

Why Chocolate & Cheese? Both share the commonality of milk and richness. I enjoy both with some salt and love the combination of sweet and savory. Not every cheese will pair well with every chocolate but it is fun to play and experiment. This Valentine’s Day you could pick out a few chunks of cheese and a selection of chocolates and see what tastes good to your palate. Some recommendations I have found are Pierre Robert with raspberry or prosecco ganache and salt caramels with Valdeon and Mahon. You can have your chocolate and cheese separate or combined.

I have also enjoyed a smoked gouda and nutella sandwich but it has been awhile. A few of my favorite chocolate and cheese combinations are Capri Chocolate goat log which is a chocolate chevre that is excellent for making cheesecake, a heart shaped chocolate goat cheese with bourbon soaked raisins and walnuts, and Cocoa Cardona. Let us explore Cocoa Cardona.

Cocoa Cardona is a semi-firm goat’s milk cheese made by Carr Valley in Wisconsin. The rind is rubbed with cocoa powder to infuse the creamy cheese with a subtle chocolate flavor which is balanced by the sharpness of the cheese. This cheese took 1st place at the 2004 and 2nd place at the 2006 American Cheese Society Competition. Carr Valley’s head cheesemaker, Sid Cook is one of the few certified Master Cheesemakers in the United States.

If you want to enhance the chocolate flavor, you can drizzle this cheese with chocolate syrup or honey. This cheese is like a chocolate goat cheese truffle, a rich indulgence! This cheese will pair well with Syrah, Merlot, Gewurtraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. I have adapted the following recipe for those adventurous enough to try this at home.

Chocolate cheese fudge

1/2 pound of Cocoa Cardona, shredded
2 16-ounce boxes of fine confectioners’ sugar
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts work best)
1. Spray a 9×12 pan with non-stick coating.
2. Melt the cheese and butter together in a large saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat, mix in the nuts and vanilla extract, and set it aside.
4. Mix the cocoa and sugar together in a large bowl.
5. Fold in the cheese/butter mixture.
6. Press the resulting stiff concoction into the prepared pan by hand.
7. Pat the surface of the candy with a paper towel to reduce the amount of excess oil.
8. Put the candy into the refrigerator until it’s firm.
9. Cut it into squares.
10. Chow down on the home-baked chocolate cheese goodness — if you’re extreme enough.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Roaring 40's blue cheese

Roaring 40’s is a blue cow’s milk cheese from King Island Dairy. King Island Dairy is located on King Island which is south of Melbourne, Australia in the Great Southern Ocean. King Island is one of the few remaining remnants of the land bridge that once linked Tasmania and Australia. King Island has pristine land but is plagued by fierce westerly winds which blow down form the 40 degree longitude which can cause treacherous seas. These winds came to be know by sailors as the roaring 40’s which is where this cheese gets its name.

These winds were also responsible for the shipwreck of many ships and many sailors lost their lives. These tragedies have affected the terrain of this small island. As many ships were destroyed near King Island, different things washed ashore, among these were straw beds. The seeds inside these beds began to germinate and spread across the island. This created extremely lush and pristine pastures.

Due to the Island’s climate, cows can be on pasture year round. The only thing that supplements their diet is kelp which has washed up on shore. King Island cows are well known for producing milk that is sweet, creamy, and pure. This milk goes into making all of King Island Dairy’s line of cheeses.

This unusual blue won “Champion Cheese” as the 2002 New York Fancy Food Show and was the 2006 Champion at the 78th Annual British Empire Cheese Show in Ontario, Canada. There are less than 2,000 people currently living on King Island. This has enable the Island to maintain its pristine pastures and avoid many pollution pitfalls.

Roaring 40’s is a rindless blue cheese that is matured in black wax to maintain moisture to create a smooth and creamy cheese. Very few blue cheeses are coated in wax but this cheese benefits greatly from its coating. This cheese has notes of honey and nuts which is balanced by minerality. This cheese will pair well with a smoky Australian Shiraz, dessert and fortified wines, Riesling, Gewurztrminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. Try this cheese on a whole wheat cracker, currant bread, or Raincoast Crisps. You can also drizzle this cheese in honey or pair it with pears and walnuts.