Serving a cheese plate for dessert is a culinary experience that can elevate your meal. This European tradition offers a sophisticated alternative to traditional sugary desserts.
The cheese will take center stage with its rich array of textures and flavors. But, the many options for pairings with the cheeses are what makes it a true sweet treat. It is just one of many ways to include cheese in your desserts.
Crafting a dessert cheese plate is about balance and variety. It typically includes cheeses of different styles, such as creamy Brie, tangy blue cheese, or a vintage cheddar. Each bringing its unique character to the palate.
Accompaniments are also key, as they complement and enhance the flavors of the cheeses. Items such as honey, nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate are not only traditional but also serve to bridge the gap between the savory cheese and the concept of dessert.
For those who enjoy a tipple, a well-chosen dessert wine or a sweet beer can elevate the experience. Pairing beverages like a luscious Moscato d’Asti or a rich Pedro Ximenez sherry with the chosen cheeses can beautifully highlight the contrasting flavors, making the cheese plate an indulgent and memorable dessert.
Choosing the Right Cheeses for Your Plate
Choosing the right cheeses and and complementary items will make all the difference in the success of your plate. There are a few things to consider when choosing what to include on your plate.
Understanding Cheese Types
When building a cheese plate for dessert, one should consider the different milk types used in cheese production: cow, goat, and sheep. Each type imparts a unique flavor and can affect the overall taste experience of the cheese dessert.
For example, brie, a soft cheese made from cow’s milk, offers a creamy texture, while a mildly aged goat cheese like Chevrot adds a tangy and slightly chalky dimension to the plate.
Among cheese plates, varieties such as blue cheese and gorgonzola introduce bold, piquant flavors that are offset by creamier selections like stilton. Opting for an aged cheddar or an aged gouda can provide a delightful contrast with their rich, caramel-like notes. The diversity of cheeses like parmesan with its granular texture and salty profile can turn a simple cheese course into a memorable finale.
Balancing Flavors and Textures
To achieve balance on a cheese plate, consider pairing milder cheeses with more intense ones. A well-crafted cheese dessert will have a variety of textures, from the soft and spreadable to the hard and crumbly.
Here are some specific pairings to consider:
- Soft and Creamy: Brie, Chevrot (goat cheese)
- Semi-Hard and Flavorful: Aged Cheddar, Gouda
- Blue-veined and Robust: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Blue Cheese
It is also essential to serve cheeses at room temperature to appreciate their full range of flavors and textures. A cheese that’s too cold won’t release its full bouquet of flavors, while one that’s too warm may become overly soft.
When designing a cheese plate for dessert, the selection of the right sweet and savory accompaniments is crucial. Not only do they complement the flavors and textures of the cheese, but they also add visual appeal and excitement to the experience.
Selecting Sweet Elements
To satisfy the sweet tooth, honey is a must-have on any dessert cheese plate. Drizzle it over creamy cheeses to create a simple, yet irresistible combination. For a touch of fruity sweetness, jams such as fig or berry can elevate the cheese’s flavors.
Dried fruits like apricots and fresh fruits including strawberries, pears, and blackberries work beautifully for adding a natural sweetness and a juicy contrast to the cheese. Here are some top picks:
- Honey: Drizzle over brie or blue cheese.
- Berries: Scatter blueberries and raspberries across the plate.
- Dried Figs: Offer a chewy texture that pairs well with aged cheeses.
- Dark Chocolate: Place small pieces for a luxurious touch.
Incorporating Savory and Texture
Balancing sweetness with savory elements is key, and this includes a variety of nuts and breads.
Almonds and walnuts provide a satisfying crunch and a nutty flavor that complements both sharp and mild cheeses. The right choice of crackers or biscuits can provide a savory base that lets the cheese shine.
Textural variety can be introduced with items such as ginger for a zing or mango for a tropical twist. Here’s a brief guide:
- Crusty Bread: Sliced baguette offers a classic, satisfying chew.
- Nuts: Almonds and walnuts bring a crunch; sprinkle them around the board.
- Crackers: Choose a variety that includes both plain and flavored for versatility.
- Fresh Fruit: Pears and mango slices infuse the plate with a refreshing zest.
Enhancing the Cheese Plate Experience
A well-crafted cheese plate can transform dessert into a memorable finale for any gathering. With carefully chosen beverage pairings and presentation, one can elevate the overall enjoyment of savoring cheese.
Wine and Beverage Pairings
When it comes to cheese, particularly dessert plates, wine plays a pivotal role.
Selecting a dessert wine like Moscato, with its sweet floral notes, pairs delightfully with creamy cheeses such as ricotta or mascarpone. For bolder cheeses, consider a glass of vintage port or pear brandy, which complement the strong flavors with their own rich and fruity profiles.
- Light cheeses: Try a light-bodied white wine or a sparkling option.
- Rich, creamy cheeses: A late-harvest dessert wine enhances the experience.
- Blue cheeses: Opt for a sweeter dessert wine or fortified wines.
Presentation and Serving Tips
The presentation of a cheese dessert plate engages both the eyes and palate.
Arrange a variety of cheeses on a wooden cheese board, interspersing them with fruit like peaches or honey for an extra touch of sweetness. Each cheese should be served with its own cheese knife to maintain the integrity of flavors.
- Cheese Temperature: Serve cheese at room temperature to allow flavors to fully develop.
- Accompaniments: Offer a range of snacks, like nuts and dried fruits, to complement the cheese.
- Bold flavorings like rum can be used in cheese-related recipes for an added depth.
- Cheese Boards: Choose a board large enough to accommodate the cheeses without overcrowding.
Beyond the Plate: Additional Considerations
When curating cheese plates for dessert, the selection of cheese by milk type and the creation of innovative dessert cheese recipes are crucial to transforming the cheese course into a memorable finale. The aim is to balance flavors and textures while catering to various palates.
Cheese Selection by Milk Type
Choosing cheese for a dessert plate often starts with considering the milk type from which the cheese is produced.
Cow milk cheeses like rich and creamy French Brie offer a familiar but luxurious option. For a more nuanced flavor, a sheep cheese like Pecorino, which has a saltier edge, can add depth.
Goat cheeses are tangy and can be paired with sweet elements like fig jam or honey to create a sophisticated balance.
Innovative Dessert Cheese Recipes
Creating dessert recipes featuring cheese involves more than simply setting out a plate; it includes infusing the cheese into sweets.
Consider incorporating mascarpone into chocolate cake for a moist and rich texture. You can also blend ricotta with lemon juice, fresh mint, and sugar for a refreshing cheesecake-like treat.
You could also explore baking options such as including finnish juustoleipa or danish blue into savory-sweet cookies or brownies, adding an unexpected cheese twist.
For a playful take, serve banana slices with a smudge of caramel and sprinkled bread cheese that’s been lightly torched to caramelize.
- Mascarpone: Use in chocolate cake
- Ricotta: Blend with lemon juice, fresh mint
- Bread Cheese: Pair with banana, caramel
Have you created this type of a dessert for an event? We would love to hear what guests thought!