Cheese as Dessert
There are two approaches to cheese as dessert. One is to have a cheese cart with options for your customers to choose from, and another is to compose a dish that showcases a cheese (for Robiola and Cherry Jam with Toasted Brioche). Either way is acceptable, but you need to understand what each style entails.
The variety to offer on a cheese cart is a difficult decision. Before you even get started, it is important to know a lot about cheese. What types of milk are used? The cheese could be made from buffalo, cow, ewe, goat, or a combination of these milks. How is cheese categorized by type and texture? They could be blue, hard, semihard, semisoft, soft, soft pâte, soft washed, soft white. How long will this cheese keep? What is affinage? (Answer: This French word refers to the process of maturing and ripening cheese.) This is an educational process that takes time; taste as many cheeses as possible and learn as much as you can about them before you commit to a cheese program. You can have a simple cheese selection or offer every type of cheese there is; it all depends on what you are looking for and what your staff is trained to do. Now, it doesn’t mean that the pastry chef is responsible for developing a cheese program, but it is within the realm of possibility that you may want to take on such a responsibility, since theoretically cheese, as well as dessert, is eaten at the end of a meal. Consider also that offering cheese means there will be one more plate of food that might keep customers from ordering one of your actual desserts.
Composed cheese plates can be a smart alternative to a cheese cart since you can limit these to just a few choices (two or three cheeses, for example, each one with its own garnish, sauce, and so forth). This type of offering is a terrific transition between the last course and dessert (or predessert), since you can combine savory components with sweeter ones.
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