Winter’s bitter chill practically begs for a melted-cheese dish, am I right? Defaults tend to be grilled-cheese sandwiches and pots of mac ‘n cheese—mostly because they are easy to whip up—but, yes, even a fromage fan like myself can grow tired of those.
It was important to me when writing Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries—publishing on March 1—to think of cheese as a 24-hour ingredient. I also wanted to move beyond the state’s most expected cheese (hello, cheddar!).
For example, Tuscan tomato frittata with Fontina or cheesy grits with greens for breakfast, a couscous folding in blue cheese for lunch and then, come dinner, options like sriracha pizza and cornmeal-crusted fish tacos featuring mango-habanero cheese. (Getting hungry? These recipes—provided by the 28 creameries I profile, many of them family favorites—are all in the book.)
When I visited with Katie Fuhrmann, head cheesemaker at LaClare Family Creamery in Malone, she couldn’t stop talking about options to use goat cheese in the kitchen. She rattled off examples like a topping for spaghetti or pizza, or substitute for sour cream.
Photo credit: LaClare Family Creamery
We’re talking about not just fresh logs of chèvre but also blocks of aged hard cheese, all crafted from her family’s goat farm, where she and three of her siblings work. I learned goat cheese has no bounds in a food menu. We tend to think of it is a salad topping or a spread on crackers, maybe a fun alternative to cheddar in mac ‘n cheese.
Served at the café attached to their creamery are dishes that work LaClare Family Creamery cheese into the list of ingredients. Be sure to try Evalon, an aged goat’s-milk cheese that won “Best of Show” in the 2011 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest… only two years after Katie learned to make cheese.
Goat Cheese Brownies
Photo credit: LaClare Family Creamery
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces semi−sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 ounces LaClare Family Creamery Original Goat Cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1⁄2 cup all−purpose flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces LaClare Family Creamery Original Goat Cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces semi−sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with foil and apply nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, microwave butter and chopped chocolate in 20-second increments, stirring until melted. Whisk in granulated sugar. Cool to room temperature.
3. Whisk in eggs one at a time until thick and shiny, then add goat cheese and vanilla. Sift flour, cocoa, and salt over bowl and stir gently with a spatula. Scrape batter into baking pan in an even layer.
4. Bake for 45–50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool completely before frosting.
1. Mix butter and goat cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, then add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, beating on low speed until sugar is mixed in. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
2. Spread frosting over cooled brownies in pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before glazing.
1. Heat cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate in a bowl and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk chocolate and cream together until smooth and shiny. Pour over brownies and smooth into an even layer.
Refrigerate the brownies until glaze is firm, at least 45 minutes.
To cut brownies, lift from pan using foil. Cut into small squares. Wash knife in warm water between cuts for the cleanest cuts. The brownies are easiest to cut when cold, but for the best taste and texture, let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before eating.
Makes one 8" x 8" pan of brownies
Courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries by Kristine Hansen © 2019 www.rowman.com Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.
Want to learn how great cheese goes so well with wine? Check out The Chopping Block's Culinary Heaven: Wine & Cheese Pairing class on Friday, March 8 6pm at the Merchandise Mart.