In different culinary traditions it’s customary to serve a cheese course before dessert or after dessert. But what happens when cheese becomes the dessert? We can’t imagine anyone will be missing the chocolate cake or apple pie.
In recent years, it has become increasingly fashionable to serve cheese in place of typical sugary sweets. As a dessert, cheese is simple, elegant, and in many cases, healthier than brownies, cookies and the like. And with so many textures, flavours and aromas, cheese offers a world of decadent possibilities.
At gourmet markets and cheese shops, you’ll find cheese makers are indulging the dessert trend with speciality cheeses featuring sweet flavours, fruits, and liqueurs. For exquisite but easy desserts, look for Chèvre encrusted with blueberry and cinnamon, Wensleydale flavoured with rum and tropical fruit, logs of goat cheese blended with semi-sweet chocolate, or cheese tortes filled with alternating layers of cheese, honey, and nuts. A favourite made in Britain is White Stilton studded with pieces of mango and ginger. It tastes just like a luscious cheesecake, without the crust!
To create your own cheese dessert, individual cheese plates are a very sophisticated option, especially when entertaining guests. For the proper assortment, choose three to four cheeses (see suggestions below) that range in flavour from savoury to sweet, and plan on adorning each individual plate with about two ounces of each cheese.
For a pretty presentation, arrange fresh fruits between each selection. Apples, pears, figs, melons, and grapes pair well with almost any cheese. Then embellish each plate with a sprinkling of walnuts, a side of quince jelly, or a drizzling of honey or pecan praline sauce. Complement your offerings with some sweet dark breads and biscuits, and of course a lovely dessert wine. Dessert cheeses match well with vintage Port, fruity Moscato, or crisp, chilled ice wines.
Dessert Cheese Choices
Some cheeses are naturally sweet and fruity in flavour, making them traditional treats for dessert time. Think of smooth Dutch Gouda, acidic Swiss Emmental, creamy Danish Havarti, or luxurious French Brie. It takes little more than a few slices of fruit and wine to turn these famous cheeses into simply scrumptious desserts.
Savoury cheeses, though not as obvious, make alluring dessert choices as well. Mature Parmesan, albeit crumbly, nutty and salty, is perhaps best appreciated as a dessert with fresh figs and pears. A robust Italian Pecorino melts in your mouth when cut into chunks and served with ripe pears and honey. You could also try a Spanish San Simon or a sharp, gritty Danish Blue alongside strawberries and peaches. For a more casual treat, warm slices of crusty Finnish Juustoleipa (Bread Cheese) in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds. Serve it with honey and lingonberry jam, or dip it right into your cup of coffee.
Easy, Cheesy Dessert Recipes
From cheesecakes and pies to tarts and tiramisu, cheese finds its way into a number of our favourite desserts. So cheese lovers who can’t bear to trade in their sweet treats for a cheese plate can still enjoy the best of both worlds.
However, when you don’t have time to bake, cheeses like Ricotta and Mascarpone can be turned into elegant desserts without much fuss. These mild, creamy cheeses almost beg to spread and swirled with sweet add-ins. Best of all, they’re ready to eat in just a few short minutes. Enjoy!
Ricotta Cheese with Honey and Berries
- 250g ricotta
- 250g mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries)
- 4 tbsp raspberry sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
Prepare four dessert plates. Divide the ricotta into four slices and place one slice on each plate.Top the ricotta with berries. Drizzle each plate first with raspberry sauce, then with honey.
Serve immediately. Makes four servings.
Banana Mascarpone Mousse
- 100g dark chocolate
- Splash double cream
- 85g mascarpone cheese
- Splash lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
- Splash rum
- ½ banana, chopped
Gently melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over simmering water or on low in the microwave. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone, lemon juice, mint, rum and banana. Add the melted chocolate to the mascarpone mixture and fold until combined.
Spoon the mousse into four ramekins and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or more. Makes four servings.