Serious Cheese: Four Swoon-Worthy Creamy Cheeses
I've got a confession to make: I'm a promiscuous cheese lover. I indulge constantly, with little regard for decorum or consequence. I'll eat and enjoy soft cheeses, hard cheeses, cheeses with an cantankerous personality, and cheeses that are more tender of sensibility. I don't really care the cost—I'll spend a fortune for one good hour of eating.
But as is usually the case for brazen trollops, a piece of my heart is permanently captivated by one particular cheese, or in this case, a family of cheeses. While I'll accept propositions from any fine dairy specimen, I'll clear out my calendar without a second thought for my one true love: double- and triple-cream cheeses.
I'm not talking about Brie here, though I've known a few; rather, I'm referring to a class of cheeses that are so luxurious that they consume a permanent area of my heart at all times, regardless of my current flavor of the week (or day, or hour). With every other cheese I taste, a little part of me longs for the whipped-mousse texture of Brillat Savarin, Delice d'Argental, or one of the other cheeses I've listed below.
Delice des Crèmiers
A brine-lovers picnic, Delice des Crèmiers imparts such full-bodied saltiness that you'll want to have a glass of water handy in case you over-indulge—and that's not difficult with this fluffy creamlined-cheese. You almost don't need crackers here, as its yeasty notes invoke visions of crackly, savory puff pastry brushed with cultured butter. The inner paste of younger versions remains soft and supple, but in more ripe examples of Delice des Crèmiers, you'll find a fatty luxury that resembles a full-cream mousse. I like to allow it to rest on my counter for a few days, lightly wrapped in parchment, so that it nearly slips out of its rind. That's when you really start to understand the meaning of the term "triple cream."
Fromager d' Affinois Blue
I say this about a lot of cheeses, but this right here is a beginner's blue. With barely a hint of blue bite, this cheese is so creamy, so fluffy, that you'll almost forget it claims to be a blue at all. But penicilium there is indeed, poking its tongue out at you at the end of every nibble, hinting at a unique funk that you'll catch only the slightest hint of. Rich, full-bodied, and with a layer of nearly-whipped buttery fat, there's a saltiness in Fromager d' Affinois Blue that mellows its potential pungency. All in all, it's a funny little aunt of a cheese, poking you in the ribs one second, squeezing your shoulders affectionately the next... but you'll love her no matter what.
Crèmeux des Cîteaux
The "cheesiest" of the creamy varieties I've listed here, Crèmeux des Cîteaux is aged longer than standard triple creams, lending it a subtlety of stinky funk without bowling you over. Besides its saltiness, you'll find wave of other complimentary flavors as well: mushrooms, earth, sweet grass, and cool climes. While this cheese is certainly creamy, it's not overtly fatty due to its status as a somewhat matured cheese—sure, it's rich, but its texture is held together by a hint of gentle effervescence. Crèmeux des Cîteaux is a cheese lover's cheese, for those who enjoy big flavor paired with compelling texture, and a special treat for those of us smitten by creamy cheeses with a little more complexity.
Petit Grès Champenois
This little cake-looking ellipse is a recent find, discovered only because I asked my local cheesemonger what new triple creams she had that I might not have tried before. (I can't stress this enough: engage your cheesemonger, and you will be richly rewarded.) Petit Grès Champenois is lusciously salty and deeply savory, with a whisper-soft creamline around the inner core. In a younger cheese the middle will be a touch pasty with a slightly firm texture, so I recommend letting your immature Petit Grès chillax on your counter for a few days in its little wooden tub at room temperature. Crack into it when the top of the cheese begins to dip inward a half-inch or so, which means the inside has begun to collapse into a vision of warm, whipped butter.
What are your favorite creamy cheeses?
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. (Available now). Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts. She also publishes a monthly culinary newsletter full of stories, review, and helpful tips.