Christmas is almost here and it is a particularly exciting time of year for us due to the imminent arrival of peak cheese season! While there are cheeses for every season and occasion, Christmas is a time when cheese plays a key role in festivities. Perhaps you’re planning the perfect cheeseboard or looking for a gift for the cheese lover in your life. Whatever the activity, December is definitely cheese month.
This is why we have embarked on a journey to find some of the most popular cheeses around Christmas time. Whilst Cheddar cheese is an all-time favourite (it’s our favourite too!), we wanted to find out what piques people’s interest in the festive season and what is the best Christmas cheese to add to any platter.
This is definitely one of the most popular cheeses around Christmas time and it’s no wonder why. A delightfully soft and creamy french favourite with a mild nutty taste that when melted, makes a sensational festive dip. Try it with pigs in blankets for the ultimate mouth-watering Christmas snack…don’t forget the cranberry sauce!
Pairing – Chardonnay complements but does not overwhelm the delicate flavours of the Camembert. If you’d prefer to stick with red, go for a soft fruity one such as a New Zealand Pinot Noir. A crusty roll along with fruits such as berries are an ideal accompaniment and if you’re including it as a dessert, why not pair it with squares of dark chocolate or candied walnuts.
Recipe – Dough Ball and Baked Camembert Platter
Place 3 x 250g camembert on a greased baking tray, brush with a little oil and add fresh herbs of your choosing. Glaze your dough balls with beaten egg and sprinkle some poppy or sesame seeds on top. Add these to the baking tray around the camembert and ensure the tray is evenly covered. Bake for 25-30 mins in a preheated oven at 180°C/160°C fan until the dough balls are cooked through and the cheese is melted. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then serve.
An unsurprising all-time favourite, Brie is a must on every cheeseboard. Little wonder it was searched for 27,000 times online in December 2021. Although similar to Camembert in taste, Brie is milder with a rich, buttery flavour that develops a strong earthy taste and aroma with age. The edible rind adds to its flavour and character.
Pairing – Ideal with a dry white such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, or perhaps a sparkling white. Crusty bread or plain crackers are perfect as they won’t overwhelm the flavour of the Brie. Fruits such as apples, grapes, pears and berries are a fantastic pairing, as well as unsalted nuts such as walnuts, pecans and almonds.
Recipe – Christmas Leftovers Traybake with Cranberry and Brie
This is a great one for all those lovely leftover veggies. Place the roast vegetables (e.g. carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc.) on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and black pepper, then roast for 15 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan until crisp. Take 150g of sliced brie and dot over the roasted vegetables. Place back in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes until melted. Drizzle with the cranberry sauce and herbs to finish.
Blue cheese certainly piques everyone’s interest around the festive season. There are of course many different variations of blue cheese, but the most well known are French Roquefort, English Stilton (the highest-selling cheese overall in December 2021), Italian Gorgonzola and Spanish Cabrales. Gloriously pungent, blue cheese has different flavours depending on the type but in general, the taste is sharp, salty and tangy. The mould has a nutty taste.
Pairing – Finding the right wine to go with blue cheese is often a difficult balancing act, particularly with stronger blues. Stiltons go well with Port, while a fruity red wine is great for milder blues. Don’t worry if you don’t get the perfect combination first time…the fun is in the experimenting! Dried fruits such as raisins and dried cranberries work well with blue cheese, along with wholegrain crackers and crusty bread.
Recipe – Stilton and Broccoli soup
A perfect dinner party starter or comforting snack that’s a real winter warmer! Heat two tbsp of rapeseed in a pan, then add one finely chopped onion. Cook on medium heat and add a splash of water if the onion starts to catch. Add sliced celery, leek and one diced potato along with a knob of butter and stir until melted. Cover with lid and allow to sweat for 5 minutes. Pour in 1l of stock (chicken or vegetable) and add any chunky bits of stalk from 1 head of broccoli. Cook for 10-15 minutes until all the veg is soft. Add the remaining chopped broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Add 140g crumbled stilton, season with black pepper and serve.
Smoked cheese makes a welcome appearance to this list, and is another one that sees a spike in interest during the festive season. There are a number of different smoked cheeses available, including our own delicious Oak-Smoked Vintage Organic Cheddar. Smoked cheese has a unique woody, smoky flavour – rich and smooth with subtle earthy nuances. Our oak-smoked cheddar has won many awards and was most recently crowned Best Smoked Cheese at the International Cheese Awards in 2022. Definitely a must-have for any Christmas cheeseboard!
Pairing – For smoked cheddar, go with a sweeter, fruitier wine such as Zinfandel, Malbec or Chardonnay which will complement its woody flavour. For fruit, tart apples or white grapes make the perfect accompaniment. Top tip – grate some smoked cheese over your tacos for a simple and VERY tasty snack!
Fun to make and even more fun to eat! This is a great savoury treat for all the family to enjoy this Christmas. You can find the recipe in the link above – thank us later!
If you’re looking for the ‘wow’ factor, then Truffle cheese is the way to go, and is a popular choice at Christmas. Truffle is grown underground which gives truffle cheese that unforgettable earthy flavour and distinct aroma. This is not a cheese that is widely available so if you’re looking for something truly special for your cheeseboard, why not take a look at our own Godminster Black Truffle range? Smooth and creamy, with a rich earthy taste, each bite is packed full of flavour.
Pairing – Truffle cheese is a star in its own right so doesn’t need fancy accompaniments – plain or whole grain crackers or perhaps our Golden Honey and Oat Biscuits. We think a drop of port is the ideal beverage to drink with Truffle Cheese – a perfect combination for your after-dinner cheeseboard!
This quick and simple snack using our award-winning Black Truffle Vintage Organic Cheddar is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon treat and is absolutely delicious! Click on the link above for the full recipe.
Finding the right cheese for you
We hope we’ve provided you with a little inspiration to help sprinkle a little cheesy magic on your Christmas. If you’re still exploring the best cheeses for a Christmas cheeseboard, or are looking for the perfect cheese gift for that special someone (or yourself, because…well, why not?), take a few moments to browse through our wide range of cheese gifts and hampers. You might enjoy our Four Cheese Gift Set or for the ultimate treat to make your celebrations go with a bang, check out the Godminster Ultimate Hamper Box with Fizz.
Merry Cheesemas from all of us at Godminster!