Piles of cheese decorate the case at Dedalus Wine Shop in Burlington, Vermont. A burnt orange aged Gouda is on display, demanding attention with its rusty color. Despite its distracting beauty we stay focused. We are here to see what maple and cheese pairings we should be trying, according to a Vermont cheesemonger.
The cheesemonger on duty scans the international selection of cheese with thoughtful intention. After a few moments of silence, they finally declare that maple syrup would really go with well any of these cheeses. Soft, Alpine, Vermont made, aged. They all feature flavors that compliment Grade A maple syrup. Including the striking Gouda.
This is great news.
“Would you like to sample some?” The answer, of course, is yes. And for the next few minutes my senses get to tour the nuances of various cheeses, dreaming up ways to serve them with maple.
Maple syrup may not be the first accoutrement you make room for on a cheese board, but it should be! Here is how you can make the most of maple and cheese pairings.
Ricotta and Mascarpone
Grade A Golden, Delicate is the lightest Grade A maple syrup available. It’s sweet and buttery, with the power to electrify scoops of vanilla ice cream. That power extends to cheese. Pair this classification of Grade A maple syrup with whipped ricotta dips and pour it over dollops of mascarpone for extra dimension. Serve with fresh, seasonal fruit to make the flavors bolder.
A sharp cheddar is a match made in maple heaven. Cheddar shines (literally) under the buttery and sweet pour of Golden, Delicate. Serve it with cubes of cheddar and fresh apple slices, or use in a Maple Cheddar Apple Tart.
Parmesan may not be your first thought when pondering pairings. Alas, Parmesan is described by the Dedalus cheesemonger as “sweet and creamy.” Which, when put that way, sounds perfect for maple syrup. While you may not want to garnish spaghetti with maple over Parmesan a la Buddy the Elf, there are other ways to partner the two. Try combining them in a vegetable roast to achieve a “sweet and creamy” (and a little bit salty) bite.
Organic Champlain Triple
American Cheese Society Award Winner, Champlain Valley Creamery’s Organic Champlain Triple has a creamy bite. Its “earthy rind” and “hints of mushrooms,” according to the creamery’s website, inspires us to drench this soft cheese in a maple forward vinaigrette atop a bed of roasted vegetables and cooked grains. Warm grain bowls aside, we’d also enjoy it on a toasted baguette or cracker with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Brabander Goat Gouda
Brabander Goat Gouda is a cheese with a fudgy texture. The cheese mongers at Dedalus describe it as being “aged and savory” but also “sweet and crystally.” Its rich and caramel-y notes sound a lot like how we’d describe the flavor of Grade A Amber, Rich maple syrup. Together, they’re a force on a cracker.
Goat cheese in any of its iterations works with maple, but this is especially so in its soft and crumbled Classic Chevre form. With its delectable tang and creaminess, we love to combine the two in salads. It’s when goat cheese is tossed into a puff pastry brushed with maple syrup that the harmony of this pair peaks.
This soft cows-milk cheese upgrades a get together to a sophisticated rendezvous upon serving. Its buttery and rich and can be enjoyed at room temperature though it arguably reaches its full potential when baked. Served in this melted manner, it is the ideal canvas for a maple topping.
If you think salty-sweet is a favorable flavor combination, try stinky-sweet. Harbison is a bark wrapped, sort-of stinky (in a good way) cheese by Jasper Hill. A touch of robust maple syrup encourages the sweetness hidden in this mushroom funk-forward cheese to shine. Our new favorite way to pair the two is to slather a thin slice of baguette with Harbison, place a raspberry on top and fill the fruit with maple syrup using our squeeze bottle that allows for an accurate and no-mess pour.
Burrata and Mozzarella
While you might not feel inclined to pour maple syrup directly onto your burrata or mozzarella (though that would be delicious with some grilled peaches and fresh basil), you can reduce balsamic vinegar with maple syrup for a more traditional pairing.
When halloumi is mentioned an admirable sigh falls over the cheese counter as if saying, “oh yes, how could we forget.” We’re crazy about this salty cheese that is often featured on menus as an appetizer grilled with seasonal fruit drenched in maple syrup or honey. Its mellow and tangy nature is tastefully supported by the notes of brown sugar apparent in Grade A Dark, Robust maple syrup. Served with seasonal strawberries, this cheese tastes like dessert before dinner.
The essence of my tour of the Dedalus cheese counter was gathering that maple and cheese pairings are vast. Any cheese can be a match for maple. Two lovely ingredients can combine in both familiar and surprising ways. Real maple syrup has the ability to accentuate flavors, enriching a bite in a wholesome way. For your next cheeseboard, consider maple syrup.