Apples and Cheese Make a Savory Dessert

Like peanut butter and jelly or French fries and ketchup, I believe apples and cheese were meant to go together. The British have a catchy way of saying the same thing: “Apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” Indeed, until recent, calorie-conscious times, you’d get asked “With cheese or ice cream?” whenever you ordered apple pie, whether at the local diner or a fine restaurant.

It is the apple, not the pie, which makes the marriage with cheese perfect. Any sliced apple tastes better when paired with it, whether the cheese is mild, commercially produced Alpine Lace from the supermarket or the most aristocratic, artisanally made Stilton. My choice, though, would be a nice Cheddar.

Cheddar cheese is named after a town in England, though it has not been made there for ages. Indeed, today, prize-winning Cheddars are produced in Vermont, California, Oregon and elsewhere in the U.S. The process for making them, called cheddaring, refers to chopping up curds made from scalded cow’s milk into fine pieces. These are then pressed and compacted into large cylindrical drums that are aged for at least six months.

Cheddar is a cream-colored cheese, although fine cheesemakers as well as commercial producers sometimes use anatto, a natural colorant, to tint Cheddar orange. As milk prices have escalated over the past couple of years, so has the price of cheese - but you can find domestically produced two- and three-year old Cheddars that are a bargain, relatively speaking. They make perfect grilled cheese sandwiches and flavorful macaroni and cheese. You can even buy reduced-fat Cheddars produced in Vermont and Oregon.

For me the sharper the Cheddar, the better. My favorites, crumbly and dry, are aged three years or more. In this unique crumble, I find low-fat Cheddars lack the ideal edgy flavor. Instead, I use the sharpest one I can find, in smaller quantity, and savor every bite.

Savory Apple Crumble - Makes 6 servings

Cooking spray

6 cups Jonagold, Crispin or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced, about 2 pounds apples

1/2 cup dried currants

3 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar, preferably aged 2 to 3 years

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced and chilled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish, preferable heatproof glass, with cooking spray.

In the prepared baking dish, combine the apples, currants, and shredded cheese, then spread them in an even layer.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or heavy fork, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse moist sand, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the topping over the filling, covering it evenly. Do not press the topping down.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the apples are bubbling and tender and the topping is cinnamon brown. Let the crumble stand 15 minutes before serving. Spoon the crumble into shallow dessert bowls and serve warm.

Per serving: 237 calories, 9 g total fat (5 g saturated fat), 35 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 187 mg sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $86 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: March 23, 2009

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