We’re Pairing Candy with These Cheeses (Yes, Really!)
It all started with crackers, naturally. Shortly after, we expanded the cheese-pairing possibilities to cookies (a sweeter cracker, some might argue). And now, we’re here to complete our cheesy trilogy with the ultimate sugary base: candy.
Once again, we called up Michelle Molier, an ACS-certified cheese professional and the manager of education and events for Murray’s Cheese, to get some general pointers and pairing suggestions. And, once again, she did not disappoint!
This sweet-and-savory extravaganza includes 10 of our favorite chocolatey, fruity, sour, and spicy candies. You can find all of these in stores year-round (with the exception of maybe candy corn, which you can make yourself if need be). But now is when you’ll find bulk bags of these fun-sized sweets everywhere. Bonus: They’ll be on sale VERY soon, so stock up so you can turn out the sweetest cheese boards this holiday season.
1. Blue Cheese and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
“A fudgy favorite,” is how Molier describes this soon-to-be-iconic duo. “Blue cheese always has a little bit of fudginess to the taste,” she says. “So texturally, I don’t really think we know the difference.” When paired with chocolate, it creates “this candy bar effect.” Molier suggests pairing salty, funky Fourme d’Ambert with the Halloween MVP — nutty, sweet Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
2. Gjetøst and Pretzel M&Ms
Pretzel M&Ms have a crunchy saltiness that’s ideal with a savorier-style cheese, explains Molier, which is why it goes great with Ski Queen Gjetøst, a Norwegian cheese known for its caramel flavor and texture. (She compared it to a makeshift Take 5, minus the peanuts!) Roll up the M&Ms in slices of cheese to create the perfect sweet-and-salty bite.
3. Triple Cream and Hershey’s Special Dark
Delice de Bourgogne “is basically cream,” say Molier. And this decadent cream needs an equally decadent chocolate by its side. Enter: Hershey’s Special Dark. We’re highlighting the natural beauty of both of these things, she explains, and also “making our own milk chocolate.” How cool is that? Grab a mini bar, dunk it into the cheese (less is more, for dark chocolate lovers), and enjoy.
4. Honey Goat Gouda and Twix
“It’s giving marshmallow,” says Molier about Murray’s Honey Goat Gouda, a semi-firm young Gouda (aged six months) and the obvious choice for a classic Twix. It adds a “softer, sweeter touch” to the chocolate-caramel-wafer combo we love. She also suggests layering a cheese slice on top of the Twix and heating it up in the microwave (or toaster oven) for a second for maximum deliciousness.
5. Starburst and Thistle Rennet Cheese
Game-changing — that’s how Molier describes this duo. Thistle rennet cheeses, like this Amanteigado Grande from Portugal, have a flavor that’s reminiscent of strawberry, raspberry, and other fruits that mimic the flavors of Starbursts. And if you let the cheese sit out on the counter, it becomes thick and pudding-like, which means you can spread a little on each candy cube before serving.
6. Alpine-Style Cheese and Skittles
“What led me to this cheese is the Skittles slogan: Taste the Rainbow,” says Molier. While there technically aren’t rainbows, “alpine-style cheeses require their cows to openly graze over all of this land and vegetation, so that they can taste the rainbow of the mountains.” (Think: fresh grass, chestnuts, dry hay, flowers, herbs.) The Tarentaise and Skittles pairing is a little funky, due to the vegetable notes of the cheese, but Molier thinks the prickly pineapple finish of the Tarentaise can bridge the gap.
7. Strawberry Goat Cheese and Hot Tamales
“I have an instant answer for this one,” says Molier when I bring up fiery red Hot Tamales. Vermont Creamery Strawberry Spritz Goat Log: a “fresh, fresh, fresh cheese — basically as close to milk as you can get — to cool down the hot tamale (like blue cheese dressing and hot wings).” You could also go for a plain fresh goat cheese, but for Halloween, she thinks the strawberries add that extra little bit of sweetness.
8. Sour Patch Kids and Mascarpone
“Outside of the chocolate world, this is like my favorite candy,” says Molier. It was also one of the hardest for her to pair because the intensely sweet-and-sour flavor ofSour Patch Kids. She likened this “beautiful, mild, basically butter” Murray’s Mascarpone to a frosting that would help mute the sourness a little bit. She even suggested chopping up your Sour Patch Kids and mixing them into the cheese for a bagel spread, cupcake frosting, or a cannoli filling.
9. Kit Kat and Sharp Cheddar
“Everybody knows cheese and crackers,” says Molier. And because Kit Kat bars have that good wafer-y crunch, the candy is a prime choice for a classic cheddar pairing. “Whatever cheddar you would put with a cracker is what you want here,” she says. When pressed, though, she did recommend a sharp one, like Stockinghall. She also dubbed this pairing the most nostalgic and lunch-boxy feeling of the group.
10. Candy Corn and Truffle Cheese
Whether you love or hate (or are indifferent to) candy corn (or truffles, for that matter!), you’re going to want to try this combo. Here, Brach’s kernel-shaped nuggets become a “beautiful canvas” for this Moliterno Al Tartufo, a pecorino with earthy black truffles. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, which means the highest amount of fat and protein and BIG flavor. “It brings its own sound system,” says Molier. Aesthetically, it’s also her favorite Halloween cheese.
Don’t see your favorite pair? Tell us in the comments below!