Cheese Just Might Be The Most Underrated Dessert Option

Jill Caren

Cheese offers unlimited opportunities for savory and unique desserts. Learn how it can be used and what countries love it the most.

Categories Desserts

We all know about cupcakes, pies, donuts, and ice cream. They are the go to when we think about dessert.

But is cheese a dessert?

Cheese is a dessert in many European countries, but not as common in America.

While cheese desserts may sound unconventional, it is a culinary practice embraced by many cultures around the world. It is not reserved just for cheesecake either. There are so many amazing desserts you can make with a variety of cheeses.

Pairing cheese with various accompaniments such as honeys, jams, and nuts transforms it into a delightful dessert option. This pairing of savory with sweet not only tantalizes taste buds but also offers a sophisticated twist to the traditional end-of-meal course.

While any type of cheese can be adapted for dessert use, certain varieties lend themselves particularly well to the role.

Soft and creamy cheeses like Brie or tangy selections like goat cheese can provide a canvas for a range of sweet counterparts.

Incorporating the right beverage, like a dessert wine, can elevate the experience. It offers a complex interplay of flavors that are both satisfying and an elegant alternative to sugary desserts.

The practice of serving cheese as a dessert is a testament to its adaptability. It offers a bounty of possibilities for those looking to explore beyond conventional dessert boundaries.

Our Love of Cheese

Cheese lovers are all over the world. Europe embraces the delicious goodness and leads in the manufacturing of it. They produce 10 million metric tons of cheese each year.

The United States produces 6 million metric tons, with Wisconsin leading the way in production.

Let’s not forget the growth in how much cheese we are eating either. Over the last ten years, the consumption of cheese has grown by over five pounds per person.

It is safe to say, we love cheese. Now let’s talk about its use in desserts.

The Role of Cheese in Desserts

Cheese transforms desserts from simple sweet treats into complex, rich, and creamy indulgences. It is incredibly versatile which allows it to be the star ingredient in many confections.

You can use it to create a dessert inspired cheese plate or make something more traditional like a cheesecake. You are only limited by your imagination.

Cheese as a Base Ingredient

Cheese, particularly cream cheese and mascarpone, is a culinary chameleon in dessert recipes. It offers a distinctively smooth and creamy texture that forms the backbone of countless beloved desserts.

Cream cheese is a prime example, with its high fat content and mild flavor that pairs beautifully with vanilla, chocolate, and fruit. It’s this creamy quality that makes cream cheese desserts like mousse, cheesecake, and cheesecake ice cream so irresistibly velvety.

Mascarpone cheese, with its subtly sweet and buttery notes, is another favorite among dessert aficionados. Its soft richness is key in creating the lusciousness of tiramisu, a classic Italian dessert that layers mascarpone with coffee-soaked ladyfingers.

Popular Cheese-Infused Desserts

The array of desserts that incorporate cheese is vast and varied:

  • Cheesecake: A quintessential cheese dessert, ranging from the classic New York-style cheesecake to fruity variants like strawberry cheesecake.
  • No-bake cheesecake: Offers a lighter, yet still creamy, alternative that often incorporates mascarpone or cream cheese.
  • Cheesecake berry parfaits: These are a delightful combination of mascarpone or cream cheese layered with berries and crumbled biscuits for a quick yet elegant dessert.

Here’s a snapshot of how different cheeses contribute to some key dessert recipes:

Cheese TypeDessert ExampleRole in Dessert
Cream CheeseCheesecakeProvides a creamy, dense base.
MascarponeTiramisuAdds rich, velvety texture.
RicottaCannoli FillingOffers a lighter, grainy creaminess
Goat CheeseGoat Cheese MousseDelivers a tart, unique flavor.

One must not overlook goat cheese, which injects a tangy twist into desserts like cheesecakes and mousses. Ricotta cheese, traditionally used in Italian desserts such as cannoli, provides a lighter creaminess compared to cream cheese and meshes well with ingredients like chocolate and vanilla.

These cheeses offer a testament to the transformative power of dairy in desserts, turning simple sweets into rich, decadent experiences.

Pairing Cheese with Sweet Components

Cheese can be a delightful dessert when paired with sweet elements that enhance its complex flavors. By combining cheeses with various fruits, chocolates, and other sweet and savory items, one can craft unique and satisfying dessert experiences.

Cheese and Fruit Pairings

  • Blue Cheese and Berries: The bold flavor of blue cheese pairs exceptionally well with sweet and tart berries. For instance, fresh raspberries or a blackberry jam can complement its tanginess.
  • Hard Cheeses and Stone Fruits: Aged, hard cheeses bring out the sweetness of fruits like apricots. Drizzling a little honey can add a smooth finish to this combination.

Cheese and Chocolate Matchings

  • White Chocolate and Creamy Cheeses: The richness of white chocolate blends well with soft, creamy cheeses. A cheesecake with a graham cracker crust provides a delectable texture contrast.
  • Hazelnut Spread with Soft Cheese: The nutty flavor of hazelnuts in a chocolate spread can be a harmonious match for a milder cheese. Spread it on a slice for a heavenly bite.

Innovative Sweet and Savory Combinations

  • Cheese with Maple Syrup: A drizzle of maple syrup over a tangy cheese creates a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.
  • Cheese Paired with Pear Brandy: A small pour of pear brandy alongside a slice of cheese unites the warmth of spirits with the creamy savor of cheese.

Specialty Dessert Cheeses

Indulging in dessert is often accompanied by visions of sugary treats, but a world of specialty dessert cheeses awaits those willing to explore. This section will highlight regional cheese varieties perfect for the dessert course and share exclusive recipes that transform these cheeses into sweet creations.

Exploring Regional Cheese Varieties

Oregon’s Rogue River Blue: This award-winning cheese from Oregon stands out with its distinctive flavor. Made from cow’s milk, it boasts a fruity profile that pairs exquisitely with dessert wines and crisp pears. It can serve as a stand-alone dessert cheese or be included in a sophisticated cheese platter.

French Brillat Savarin: This is a triple cream brie-style cheese recognized for its decadently high butterfat content. With its rich and creamy texture, Brillat Savarin often comes with added flavors such as truffles or fruits to enhance the dessert experience.

Roquefort: Known for its bold and complex profile, Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk and stands out amongst dessert cheeses. Its tangy, rich flavor complements sweet fig jam and crunchy nuts, which can balance its intensity.

Aged Gouda: Renowned for its deep caramel sweetness and nutty undertones, aged Gouda makes an excellent finishing touch on a cheeseboard. It’s a favorite for those with a sweet tooth who enjoy robust, intricate flavors.

Exclusive Dessert Cheese Recipes

Cream Cheese Pound Cake: Incorporate silky cream cheese into a traditional pound cake for a rich, moist dessert that’s a joy for cheese lovers. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh berries for added elegance.

Chocolate Cheesecake: Transform soft, unripened cheeses into this indulgent dessert, accentuating the richness of the cheese with the deep flavor of cocoa. This recipe is perfect as a make-ahead dessert and can be topped with whipped topping for extra indulgence.

Cheesecake Berry Parfaits: For a simpler twist, layer crushed graham crackers, cheesecake flavored filling, and fresh berries to delight in creamy parfait form. It’s an easy yet impressive dessert suited for any occasion.

Preparing Dessert Cheeses at Home

Transforming cheese into a delightful dessert can be a satisfying endeavor for any home cook. From the creamy richness of cream cheese to the delicate sweetness of mascarpone, cheese-based desserts bring a unique finish to any meal.

Homemade Cheese Dessert Techniques

When creating cheese desserts at home, make sure to have a blend of ingredients like honey and vanilla. These complement the cheese’s flavors without overwhelming it.

For instance, a simple yet exquisite dessert can be made by blending ricotta with a touch of honey, a dash of vanilla, and perhaps a sprinkling of spice for warmth. This mixture can serve as a base for various dishes—dolloped onto fruit, layered between cookies, or even frozen into cheesecake ice cream.

Ingredients to consider:

  • Mascarpone
  • Cream cheese
  • Ricotta
  • Honey
  • Vanilla extract
  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)

For those looking for a make-ahead dessert, no-bake cheesecake is a splendid choice. It frequently hinges on the use of cream cheese or mascarpone and can incorporate myriad flavors, from the earthiness of Oregon hazelnuts to the zest of citrus.

Simply blend softened cheese with sweeteners and flavorings, pour into a prepared crust, chill until set, and you’re all set!

Selecting the Right Cheese for Your Dessert

The choice of cheese is paramount in dessert recipes.

Cream cheese is a staple for frostings and cheesecake, offering a mild flavor and a high level of creaminess.

On the other hand, mascarpone brings a richer, buttery profile, ideal for tiramisu and other sumptuous desserts.

For those seeking a more nuanced dessert experience, one might consider a mild Gouda with a hint of sweetness. This pairs well with a full-bodied wine for an adult-centric treat.

Alternatively, ricotta lends itself beautifully to recipes that desire a lighter texture, such as a lemon ricotta cake.

Cheese selections for various desserts:

  • Cream cheese: for frosting and classic cheesecakes
  • Mascarpone: for luxurious tiramisus and creamy dessert bases
  • Ricotta: for light and airy cakes or pastries
  • Gouda: for sophisticated cheese boards paired with wine

By carefully selecting the right cheese and pairing it with complementary flavors and textures, one can craft an array of delightful and surprising dessert cheeses at home.

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