MAGGIE HENNESSY IS A CHICAGO-BASED FOOD/DRINK WRITER AND CHEF WITH A BACKGROUND IN
BUSINESS WRITING AND MORE THAN 10 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE AS A JOURNALIS T AND EDITOR COVERING
THE FOOD/RESTAURANT INDUSTRIES. VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.MAGGIEHENNESSY.COM.
Indeed, the subtle saltiness and umami of hard cheeses
such as Grana Padano, Parmesan and Pecorino Romano are
big contributors to their consistent popularity at 40-year-old
Italian cheese market Caputo in Lake Forest, Illinois. Although
Parmesan is the best-seller, pecorino is Caputo’s biggest growth
item these days. “It has the pungency of goat cheese, but at the
same time, a lot of salt, so we’re seeing a lot of movement there,”
says cheesemonger Natale Caputo.
Even on more conspicuously cheesy menus such as
Cleveland’s relentlessly popular Melt Bar & Grilled, cheese
choices go beyond flavor, providing structure and stability to the
chain’s large staple of loaded grilled cheese sandwiches.
“We use cheese in three ways,” says owner/founder Matt
Fish. “For flavor—obviously—as a texture component and also
as a building block. Our sandwiches are pretty big, so a lot of
times we use cheeses as a stabilizer to hold a sandwich together.
Some cheeses when they melt are stronger and gooier than
others, like provolone, muenster and mozzarella.”
Caputo notes that these properties are because of mozzarella’s
and provolone’s higher moisture content, chemistry and milk/water
ratio. “Mozzarella and provolone have great stretching properties
during the initial process and again after they are reheated, making
them ideal for grilled cheese sandwiches,” he says. Semisoft
muenster, on the other hand, does not stretch quite as easily.
Melt offers 30-odd grilled cheese sandwiches—combining
some blend of its 14 Wisconsin-sourced cheeses with everything
from pierogies and mac and cheese to gyro meat, pulled beef brisket
and breaded eggplant. The kitchen approaches each sandwich
like a science, beginning with two 1-inch slices of sturdy toasted
white bread smeared with vegan margarine, two 1-ounce slices of
cheese on the bottom and top, then, additional meats and veggies.
The Mom’s Meatloaf Dinner, for example, comprises a slab of
homemade meatloaf, roasted garlic and chive mashed potatoes,
chipotle ketchup glaze and a few slices of muenster cheese.
“The muenster adds a little nutty, mild flavor, but more
importantly, it melts well, photographs well and looks good,”
Fish says. “It has a tendency to melt down the side and keep
meatloaf, mashed potatoes and ketchup glaze condensed inside
the sandwich. The cheese acts as a moisture barrier between the
bread and the wet ingredients.”
Fish says it took the team a few years of tinkering with cheese
in its various moisture levels and ages to land on ideal sandwich
combinations and compositions. “Once we realized a bit of the science
behind it, it was so much fun to put the menu together,” he says.
BONBONS WITH AGED
Jérôme Landrieu, Chef
Cacao Barry, Chicago
YIELD: ABOUT 50 BONBONS
Toasted coconut base
26. 5 g passion fruit puree
34. 5 g granulated sugar
130 g desiccated coconut
METHOD: Simmer puree and sugar. Add
desiccated coconut. Toast in oven at
248ºF for 20 minutes, mixing every
5 minutes. Reserve.
Almond coconut praline base
15. 9 g water
55. 8 g granulated sugar
16. 7 g powdered glucose
19.1 g toasted coconut flakes
87.7 g toasted almonds
0.7 g vanilla bean
4 g milk powder 0%
METHOD: Make a brun caramel with
water, sugar and glucose. Pour over
coconut, almonds and vanilla bean.
Grind with milk powder until praline
texture. Set aside.
60 g Cacao Barry Zephyr 34%
240 g Cacao Barry deodorized
100 g almond coconut praline base
1 g Cacao Barry pailleté feuilletine
1 g toasted coconut base
METHOD: Melt chocolate and cocoa
butter. Add praline base. Crystallize.
Add feuilletine and coconut base.
Cast in 2-mm frame; let set. Cut
65. 3 g premium dried apricots
130.5 g mango puree
32. 6 g passion fruit puree
9. 8 g granulated sugar
9. 8 g sorbitol powder
2 g pectin NH
METHOD: Dice apricots. Add mango
and passion fruit purees. Let soak
overnight. Following day, blend mix;
add dry ingredients. Simmer mixture.
Chill. Cast in half-sphere silicone
molds with 19-mm cavity. Freeze.
Aged Swiss Gruyere Cheese Ganache
166 g cream 36%
15 g powdered sorbitol
65 g aged Gruyere cheese
185 g Cacao Barry Zephyr 34%
12 g butter
5 g Cacao Barry deodorized cocoa butter
METHOD: Combine cream, sorbitol and
Gruyere. Heat mixture to 70ºC; pour
over chocolate and butters. Make an
emulsion. Chill to 28ºC. Cast.
Cacao Barry Zephyr 34% white
1. Spray molds with colored cocoa
butter according to photo or design
of choice. Let set.
2. Make chocolate shells with Zephyr
34% white chocolate.
3. Pipe 2 g ganache in each cavity.
Place half sphere of mango confit;
top with another 1 g ganache.
4. Place disk of crunchy on top.
5. When ganache is set, seal with more
Zephyr 34% white chocolate.