Celebrate Triple Crémes
A passion for creamy cheeseuser rating
No matter how fat-phobic America gets, we never lose our passion for creamy cheese. Your best bet to please a crowd is a triple crème, which seduce most people with a velvety smoothness and sour-cream finish. Here's a quick primer.
By the French definition, a triple-crème cheese contains a minimum of 75 percent fat in its dry matter. That doesn't mean the cheese is 75 percent fat, as some believe. A fresh, high-moisture cheese, like Brillat-Savarin, could be half water, so its fat content by weight might be only 37 percent. That's not to say that triple crèmes are diet cheeses, but an ounce of Explorateur is no more decadent than an ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It just tastes that way.
How it Gets That Creamy.
To produce the buttery richness, cheesemakers typically add cream to the milk before curdling it. Triple crèmes can run the cheese gamut. Some have blue veining, such as Germany's Cambozola and Montagnolo. Others are 100 percent goat's milk, like the Coach Farm triple crème from upstate New York. Triple crèmes can even, though rare, have a washed rind, such as Red Hawk from California's Cowgirl Creamery.
Young and Fresh.
With few exceptions, triple crèmes are young, fresh, pasteurized-milk cheeses, rarely aged more than three to four weeks before release. The rind is a good indication of maturity-if you see some coloration developing on the rind, it's a signal that the cheese is continuing to mature. Since most of these cheeses soften from the outside in, give it a delicate prod and look for it not to spring back. If there's resistance, it's too young.
As triple crèmes approach over-ripeness, the rind will start to sink and separate from the cheese. Like Brie and other bloomy-rind cheeses, they can develop ammoniated smells. When ultra-ripe, they may run when cut.
What Goes with a Triple Crème?
Fruit preserves, chutneys and condiments, such as fig balsamic. Brandied fruit, Italian amarena cherries in syrup, or prunes in Armagnac also flatter these silky dessert cheeses. Good bread-unnecessary with hard cheeses such as Cheddar or Dry Jack-is essential with the unctuous, spreadable triple crèmes. Eat with non-sour baguette, plain country-style loaf or walnut bread, or an unseeded cracker.