Ever since writing Melt, I've been on a blue cheese bender. Sure, I liked blue cheese before writing the book, but I rediscovered blue cheese inside and out when I had to cook with it.
As some of you may well know, cooking with cheese is not always a smooth ride. Some blue cheeses, though, are made to be heated—Saint Agur is one of these cheeses. (It's also made to be eaten straight out of the wrapper like a sugar-starved four-year-old sucking down a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, but that's not the point of this post.)
Saint Agur is in a class all its own. Made from the richest French cow's milk, this cheese is insanely smooth and creamy, verging on the kind of butterfat texture usually reserved for semi-ripe triple creams. It's soft and luxurious, a salty-smooth bath for your palate that will conjure up visions of fresh mascarpone and new goose-down comforters. But don't let Saint Agur's texture seduce you into thinking its flavor is all puffy white clouds; indeed, this cheese is a strong, spicy blue that will jab you right in the salivary glands. In a good way, of course.
It was Saint Agur's melty texture that first led me to think of baking with it. I began to envision crumbly, buttery, undeniably French sablés, doctored to share a hint of that spicy blue love I'd grown to crave nearly every waking moment. Being such a strong cheese, the first batch of cookies I made was way too flavorful, with the blue notes drowning out every last bit of delicate butter that make the cookies such a lovely experience. After a bit of experimenting, I found the perfect balance of butter and blue.
If you don't like blue cheese, these cookies might not change your mind. Their personality is every bit as blue as the cheese itself, though there are a few other properties here that play well with Saint Agur's somewhat intense flavor profile. These sablés are as sweet and buttery as you'd expect them to be, but with an edge, care of this ridiculously rich blue cheese. If you're a fan of the blue, then you stand a good chance of being a fan of these cookies, too.
Note: These cookies are super strongly flavored with blue cheese when they come out of the oven, but their flavor mellows overnight.
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.