Your Baked Cheeses Will Benefit From A Sprinkle Of Sugar

Cheese, with its multitude of textures and flavors, has long been a cornerstone of global culinary delights. But sprinkle a touch of sugar on some varieties, and you elevate it to a whole new gastronomic dimension. It may sound counterintuitive, but the age-old interplay between sweet and salty takes center stage when sugar meets cheese. While you might first think of mascarpone, ricotta in a cannoli, or honey on baked brie when adding sugar to cheese, you should also be adding just a little to cheeses you may not suspect. 

When we think of soft cheeses like brie or camembert, our minds often drift to a creamy, gooey center and a mild, buttery flavor. Now, picture that cheese topped with a thin layer of granulated sugar, and then baked. As the cheese melts in the oven, the sugar caramelizes to create a beautiful, golden crust just like it would on top of crème brûlée. This layer not only offers an irresistible textural contrast to the soft interior but also balances the cheese's earthy notes with a gentle sweetness. But soft, creamy cheeses are not the only cheeses that pair well with a crisp shell of sugar on top.

Other pairings to try

While soft cheeses are an obvious candidate for this sweet treatment, other, less conventional types of cheese also benefit from a sugary touch. Consider feta — a cheese renowned for its crumbly texture and salty tang. When baked with a sprinkle of sugar, feta takes on a richer profile, with the sugar melting into its nooks and crannies, creating pockets of caramelized goodness. Similarly, nutty Gruyére, when given a caramelized sugar crust, introduces a delightful crunch and sweetness that complements its inherent earthy bitterness. It's like a delicate dance of flavors on the palate.

What makes this combination so irresistible? At its core, the balance of sweet and salty appeals to our basic taste preferences. When experienced together, they create a harmonious taste sensation, offering a more rounded and fuller flavor profile. The salt in cheeses accentuates the sugar's sweetness, and in return, the sugar tempers and elevates the cheese's salty notes, allowing both flavors to shine without overshadowing each other.

Pairing sugar with cheese might not be the first combination that springs to mind, but once you've experienced the joy of a caramelized brie or a sugar-kissed feta, there's no turning back. It's a testament to the endless possibilities that await when we dare to think outside the cheese box.