Last week I noticed that one of the commenters on the Scotch Eggs post worked at Cabot in Vermont, which was exciting since Kristi and I are big fans of their products. The Cabot horseradish cheddar is my fav thing and, with Kristi’s family in Middlebury, we can usually count on receiving a gigantic block of the Seriously Sharp Hunters Cheddar with our Christmas gifts.
Anyhoo, I reached out to Jacquelyn at Cabot and ended up exchanging emails with her and her colleague Wendy last week. While we were were emailing, the idea for “The Cabot Challenge” was hatched. The idea is that Wendy talks with some of the folks that develop Cabot recipes and together they come up with a challenge to see if I can use their product in a specific way. The first challenge from Wendy and co: make a dish that combines chocolate and cheese.
When I saw the challenge I was a little scared; chocolate and desserts aren’t exactly in my normal wheelhouse. Although brother Tim bought me the Ween album Chocolate and Cheese when I was in college, it wasn’t going to be any help to me here (nor can I show the album cover, this is a family site for cripes sake). But one of the goals of the Cabot Challenge idea was to force me to attempt new things.
After receiving the free item coupons that Wendy was nice enough to send to me, I headed to the grocery store and returned with this lineup:
At this point I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but there are still two ingredients in this shot I didn’t end up using because I decided how to execute it on the fly.
Before the weekend I had planned on dipping cheddar slices in dark chocolate and making a sauce to drizzle over it, but it felt kind of boring. One idea that kept coming up when I talked to people about the challenge was a chocolate grilled cheese. This morning I finally came around to the idea; some sort of cross between a grilled cheese and a stuffed french toast that could be served as a desert. I envisioned the filling being a mixture of sharp cheddar, dark chocolate, macerated raspberries, and a little nutella.
First step was rinsing and chopping a handful of raspberries and mixing them with a couple teaspoons of sugar.
While those sat in the sugar, I broke the dark chocolate pieces up using a mallet so that they would be easier to melt when cooking.
After the broken up pieces of chocolate went into the mixing bowl, I attempted a brunoise cut on the cheddar. Again, trying to sound fancy and not just say, “I cut the cheddar into tiny cubes”.
That headed into the mixing bowl as well.
At this point I checked on the raspberries and it looked like the sugar had done the work I hoped it would.
Which headed into the bowl along with a spoonful of the (faux) nutella.
Once I stirred this together and tasted it, it was missing some sweetness and was a little thick. So, I decided to make it a bit more Vermont pride-y and added a little Vermont maple syrup.
While that rested together for a few minutes, I cut the loaf of bread and made the batter that the mini sandwiches would be dipped in before cooking.
After cooking a quick test batch, I decided it needed a little more tartness to balance out the flavors, so I chopped a few more raspberries and added them to the mixture. Once that settled, we were ready to go.
While melting a little butter in a nonstick pan I cut each piece of baguette most of the way through so they could be filled.
After pressing the sandwiches closed, I placed them in the batter for about 30 seconds on each side.
These went into the pan for 4-5 minutes on each side. Much like a grilled cheese, I needed to keep the pan covered while cooking to make sure the cheese and chocolate melted completely.
After a quick rest on a paper towel to remove any excess butter, you had this delicious looking tiny sandwich:
I had one of them as-is, just ate it like a sandwich…
…But, eating them with a scoop of vanilla iced cream and a few fresh raspberries really pushed it to another level of deliciousness.
The combination of flavors was pretty crazy. The dark chocolate was bitter, but when mixed with the (faux) nutella there was a nice nutty chocolate flavor. The raspberries contributed a tart fruity flavor, while the the cheddar added a creamy sharpness. It was almost a slightly sour flavor, but in a good way. Overall, I was very happy with how it came out and that both of the key ingredients of the challenge were primary flavors in the final product. Kristi enjoyed it as well.
Thanks to Wendy and the Cabot team for the cheese and the creativity provoking challenge. I’m hoping we can make this a somewhat regular feature on the blog and keep mixing things up a bit.
And Bendle (ADB blog villain #2), please keep your comments on two weeks in a row of posts about foods with gooey insides to yourself.