The master cheese affineur Hervé Mons has crafted a pasteurized Camembert le Pommier that is rich and flavorful. Notice the rind on this bloomy rind beauty. The hues of orange reveal that this cheese is aromatic and ripe for the eating.
Pasteurized cheese is often seen as less complex, less nuanced, and less authentic than its raw milk cheese counterpart. Pasteurized cheese milk has been heat treated before cheese making ensues. The heat treatment removes not only all traces of harmful bacteria, it also removes natural, harmless bacteria that give raw milk cheeses their distinct flavor profile. The process is believed to guarantee the safety of the milk product, and in some early stages in a cheese making facility, the heat treatment can create more consistent cheeses for sales.
I have tasted both raw and pasteurized cheeses that are robust in flavor and aroma, but I do find it a feat that Mons has been able to produce a non-raw milk Camembert for the US of A. Camembert is traditionally a young cheese, aged under 60 days. Unfortunately in the US, any young fresh raw cheese is seen as a food safety hazard, thus preventing Americans from getting their hands on the original styles. Camembert was originally made by housewives in Normandy, France, whose jugs of milk were beginning to sour. In order to extend the shelf life of the milk, the women would produce small cheese wheels, salting them and placing them in a cool cellar. The natural flora from the air and the earth mingled with the curd and developed the white bloomy rind that we often see on Brie and Camembert styles today. Pasteurized Camembert relies on freeze dried cultures to do the work that nature once did for those Normandy housewives. The cheese maker who works with pasteurized milk controls the souring and ripening process by adding cultures, rather than allowing the milk to sour and ripen by itself.
Camembert Le Pommier is vegetal, mushroom-y, and grassy. Its flavor profile is one that can be paired either sweet or savory. When prepared in a more savory dish, its meaty flavors emerge- ones more reminiscent of beef broth. In a sweet dish such as this one, the buttery flavor is predominant, and the sweet jam heightens the creaminess and slight flavors of caramel.
Try this camembert pastry. It really lets the cheese express itself; the jam brightens the flavor profile and can completely transform camembert as you’ve known it. The dish is an excellent addition to any brunch spread, but could also serve as an appetizer at a party, or even an inventive desert option. (Camembert cheese-pie is a thing, right? It is now!)
Kristina Mazzio, a friend and photographer for Cheese Grotto, is the brains and visuals behind this recipe. An experienced pastry cook, Kristina weaves cheese and baking science into many different delicious wonders.
For the Pie Crust:
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of table salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2-3 tablespoons of ice cold water
For the Filling:
- 8-10 ounce wheel of Camembert or Brie
- 4 tablespoons raspberry jam
For the Top:
- 1 egg
- Handful of sliced almonds
Start by whisking together flour, sugar, and salt. Next, cut the butter into small cubes and add to flour mixture by pinching the cubes through your fingers to distribute evenly (mixture should look like sand).
Then add ice cold water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft. Let dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Next you want to roll the dough between two sheets of clear wrap or parchment paper into a circle 1/8 inch thick. Cut off the top rind of the Brie wheel and spread raspberry jam evenly over the top. (Tastes even better with homemade jam!)
Place the dough on top of the wheel (jam side up) tucking the excess dough under the bottom of the wheel. Brush with an egg wash and top with sliced almonds.
Bake 15-20 minutes and let it cool 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with honey and enjoy!