A few weeks ago, I was kneeling on the floor, stocking 22-pound wheels of gouda into the depths of my knee-knocker cold case. Suddenly, a voice from somewhere above and behind me said, “Excuse me.”
I peered upward, and there was nobody. It turns out, the voice came from around the corner of an aisle, where a customer was searching for something he couldn’t find. That something was cookie butter.
It was one of those moments where you don’t even know where to begin looking for something because you didn’t know it existed, and then suddenly your eyes fall right upon it.
In this instance, the customer had never heard of the brand of cookie butter we carry and wasn’t sure it was exactly what he wanted. And so I offered to let him taste it first.
You may be wondering what stores do when they open a jar of something to sample out, and that something doesn’t necessarily go on its own (unless you’re sitting on your couch at home with a jar and a spoon, yo).
Well, that jar becomes a sample jar. And as a responsible cheese shop manager, it becomes my job to find the right cheese to pair with my new sample.
My staff thought I was nuts. Totally bonkers. They looked at me as though I had finally, truly lost it.
“Cookie butter?” they asked incredulously.
They had no problem whatsoever with trying a sample of the butter by itself, but they couldn’t fathom that it would “go” with cheese.
We had just gotten in a new line of soft-ripened cheeses, and I wanted to make sure they understood the differences in flavor anyway—compared to our usual lineup of soft-ripened cheeses, as well as differences in the ages of younger versus slightly older brie-style cheeses.
Thus a tasting was born.
Mind you, that tasting isn’t just for staff. Once that smear of brie covered in a smear of cookie butter makes its way into your mouth, you kind of question everything you thought you knew—and you tell everyone about it.
That’s exactly what happened with my staff who initially thought I was crazy, and then came to realize that yes, I am a mad cheese genius. (Modest, right? I kid.)
Now everyone who passes by our case gets an earful about cookie butter. And anyone who asks about those California bries? They get to taste them without and with cookie butter; you never knew you needed that pairing on your breakfast table.
But wait, there’s more! It’s not just brie that goes well with the cookie butter. We’ve cooked up three options to get your palate pumping with excitement. Be daring, and give them a shot on your own!
Yes, we know for a fact that cookie butter goes very well with Marin French Cheese’s Breakfast Cheese, Petite Cendré, and even Petite Jalapeño. (Spicy and sweet; my favorite!)
You can pretty much pair cookie butter with any mild, creamy brie for good results. It’s also a kick with something a little stronger, like a good camembert, or with a rich and buttery triple cream.
Goat bries and other soft goat cheeses—heck, even fresh chèvre—are also a winning combo with our cookie butter buddy.
Aged goudas are fairly complex, and your tongue will have more reasons to plumb those complexities when pairing goudas with cookie butter.
Waag Reserve, an 18-month gouda, suddenly becomes the peanut butter of cheeses when paired with cookie butter. (No joke, the pairing tastes like you’re eating peanut butter out of the jar). For a peanut butter enthusiast like myself, that’s good news.
With a stronger, punchier gouda like 26-month aged Beemster XO or a vintage 5-year gouda, the cookie butter smooths out the gouda’s sharper notes and creates a more balanced pairing. Yet with something younger, like Double Cream Gouda or Vlaskaas, the finish is milder, softer, and more dessert-like.
Oh yeah, I went there. (Which is exactly what I told my staff when I pulled out the brie tasting and the cookie butter: “Oh yeah, we’re going there,” to their wide-eyed disbelief.)
By creamy blues, I am referring primarily to something supple and gooey, like Gorgonzola Dolce or Champignon’s Cambozola Black Label or Grand Noir. These soft, creamy blues are mild, with the tiniest notes of spice from their blue veining, which creates a great combination with something sweet like cookie butter.
The creamy-on-creamy textures—like with the soft-ripened cheeses—create a heavenly, tongue-coating topography that is not unlike a great cake frosting.
You could take it up a notch and go for Bleu d’Auvergne or Fourme d’Ambert at room temperature perfection—slightly stronger blues, a little denser, but still great with that sweet something-something out of the cookie butter jar.
For all of these pairings, shoot for a hot, fresh baguette or a subtle, cheese-vehicle cracker like 34 Degrees’ natural flavor. Bread is always better, though–especially when you’re spreading cheese and cookie butter on it!