Those who want cheese for dessert, are no longer limited to plain, old-fashioned cheesecake. Global cuisine opens the door to a plethora of flavors, as well as a variety of cheese options. My personal favorite is a delicious and sweet caramelized cheese from Norway called brunost, or in English, brown cheese. You can put it on waffles for dessert, add it to an English muffin for breakfast, layer it on top of crackers, or even eat it by the slice for a perfectly balanced sweet-and-savory snack.
With its deep and caramelized color, the appearance of brown cheese sets it apart from other cheeses in look. The flavor is unique, with a hint of with cheese tang mixed with a sweet caramel taste, that leaves a touch of salt on the palate. Although the name brown cheese isn’t very appealing to American sensibilities, it has a beautiful and smooth texture that spreads easily when warm and is a cinch to cut when cold.
This caramelized cheese has been Norway’s hidden treasure, and it is a staple in the Norwegianr diet. Personally, the first time I tired brown chees, I was hooked! I remember eating my first piece on soft fluffy Norwegian waffles, which are softer and eggier than Belgian or Eggo waffles I was accustomed to in eating in the U.S. I slathered some butter on the warm waffle while layering a thick slice of brown cheese on top. I took that precious first bite to discover irresistible harmony of sweet and savory. Needless to say, after that I was hooked and had to find many different ways to incorporate brown cheese as a staple in my diet.
The most wonderful part of brown cheese is that although it’s often used for a dessert cheese, you can have it for breakfast or lunch—or even for a light dinner if you just want a slice of bread with some cheese on top. Not only is it flexible in texture, but it’s also flexible for accommodating today’s busy schedules.
Americans are already familiar with the idea of ending fancy dinners with specialty cheeses to cleanse the palette, and cream cheese flavored desserts are perennial favorites, but how long will it be before we start seeing flavors like brown cheese appearing on our dessert plates? This caramelized sweetness of perfection deserves to be the star of a dessert plate in Western culture.
Do yourself a favor, and visit a specialty cheese shop to try some brunost, or brown cheese. Try a slice by itself, or possibly on some fluffy waffles, and see why Norwegians are so proud of their delicious caramelized cheese.