It's pretty well-understood now that cheese at room temperature equals happy cheese. Held at that frigid, refrigerator temperature, cheese is left paralyzed at a flavor standstill, but with a little warmth, fat and protein molecules loosen up a bit.
But how oh how to emulate cheese that's been treated to room temperature for the suggested hour before eating, if you haven't succeeded in anticipating properly? Or what to do if you pick up a wedge on a way to a friend's house and have no time for it to relax into a more tepid temp?
One quick trick will turn this challenge into a triumph.
I discovered this trick accidentally last summer, when I had purchased a beautifully ripe bloomy rinded cheese and didn't anticipate my family's desire to eat it right away. I could tell it was ripe and that at proper temperature it would ooze and swell with an addictive, unctuous interior, but when cold, the cheese was more sliceable than spreadable. Not right. Cheese is as much about texture as flavor, and it seemed silly to compromise both elements because of my lack of foresight.
So I slipped the cheese in the MICROWAVE. And it was like magic. A cheesy revelation. A cheesy, cheesy revelation, at that.
So try it. Use your defrost setting. Go at 10 second intervals. The amount of time you need will depend on the style of the cheese and the size of the piece.
You don't want it warm. You just want to rid it of the chill. If it's a soft-ripened cheese (bloomy rinded or washed rind) you'll want to feel a bit of give when you nudge the middle with your finger. If it's a hard cheese, it should remain hard.
Feel the exterior and see if the chill is gone. Keep the cheese wrapped in parchment or cheese paper, so as not to encourage any drying out.
And then, report back. What do you think? Does a bit of the micro help macro your cheese experience?
(Image credits: NinaM, Shutterstock)