A food so versatile that makes it easily one of the most popular in the world, either by itself or in myriad interpretations of its taste and texture, and across its fusing of flavors, the stringy, messy goodness of cheese is what triggers a whole different titillation of the human taste buds. Whether it be its pairing with two equally wholehearted delights of the food world viz wine and chocolate or its incorporation into everything from soups and sandwiches to pizzas and pastas and of course in a wide range of sweet treats and decadent desserts, cheese has to be the ultimate gratifying experience entailed out of a coursing along the gastronomic route. Unfolding one minuscule portion of this immensely immersive portal of flavors and aromas and tastes galore by dishing some out of the traditionally sweet takes on this wonder food of the world-
Starting out with a pick that might not be as alluding to the universal cheesy charms but surely would make for an interesting option to bite into is a sweet snack from the eastern region of the European continent, specifically the Balkan countries. Curd snack is what makes for an amusing name of this rather unassuming dessert that which also is known as cottage cheese bar or curd cheese bar in no any more amount of the frills. The experience of taste entailing out of this ‘modest’ bar of sweetness though is one unique despite the immense ordinariness of it.
Made from curd cheese mixed with sugar or such other sweetening agents to form a homogeneous paste which is then shaped as bars and filled with a variety of sweeteners before being coated wholly in chocolate or some other type of glaze, this is a confection of very prominent 20th century origins which therefore makes it not very traditional but nonetheless a cheesy delight to devour. Of definite Soviet origins but popular as a packaged treat in numerous European nations, most ‘originally’ as the Hungarian offering of Túró Rudi is this sweet indeed churn of cheesy nature that offers quite a recipe for intrigue in the very rendition of its basic yet remarkable identity.
The reputation of the Portuguese dessert of queijada tends to be somewhat less cheesier than the other traditional cheese based desserts of the world. And while that itself is ironic given that the very name queijada derives from the old Portuguese word queijo meaning cheese, the dish finds interpretation instead as just another sweet locally. The preparation though is no less steeped in cheesy deliciousness with a specific type of local cheese called the requeijao making up this tart like dessert. The cheese is baked inside a dough of flour and eggs to yield a fluffy sweet crusted delight oozing with as much divinity in its sweet cheesy filling. Truly a treat to devour for an experience of the cheesekind outside of its more common revelations.
Romeu e Julieta
A remarkably distinct dish of prominent cheesy derivations but not exclusively a dessert as such in its unique assertion as a composite hole, the Brazilian dose of uniqueness delivered through the as uniquely named ‘preparation’ of Romeu e Julieta truly encompasses a romance of its own. Unique as well is the preparation technique that which just calls for some arrangement of sorts to be made or can be partaken of in exclusive personal ‘plating’ as well.
A sweet and salty combination in essence of fresh cheese and guava paste is this strikingly named snack cum dessert that is unlike anything else one would ever expect. Traditionally, a thick slice of the soft and white queijo minas cheese would be paired with as thick a slice of the sweetened guava prep called goiabada in such unfussiness of it that just sees most Brazilians pick up pieces of both on a fork such that they make their own dessert and have it too! And while the ‘recipe’ itself is peculiar, no less quirky is the name encompassed by this definitely romantic couple of Romeofied cheesiness and Julietised guavics!
A cheesecake still but not one exactly conforming to the American assertion as we most commonly cut out a (huge) slice of is the more traditional Polish offering of the sernik that which literally translates as cheesecake indeed. Essentially and very evidently as well, the sernik though is different from your usual cheesecake in that it is made from curd cheese, specifically kvarog in the Polish parlance and makes for indeed one of the most loved desserts of the country. With elements of both Christian and Jewish traditions dictating its preparation out of eggs, sugar and potato flour alongside the staple curd cheese, the sernik is traditional indeed a cheesecake of 17th century stemmings. The sernik itself can be prepared in as many variations as possible- with or without crust(s) and flavored with an assortment of ingredients churning out therefore different versions of deliciousness as one might fancy.
A cheesecake still, this time of Corsican prominence, the Fiadone gets authentic in its identity as possible prepared as it is from the exclusively native brocciu cheese, made from ewe’s milk. One of the most popular among the traditional desserts, pretty indeed as much as the picturesque place of its origin, the fiadone is a crustless beauty, dainty as well in its leanness and enticing as well in its definite lemony flavor. Once a holiday staple but today a slice of deliciousness digged into at every possible opportunity of indulgence, this exquisite indeed encompassment of the cheesy opulence is as much a temptation too good to resist on its own as well as when enhanced even further with fruity flavorings.
Of Russian origins that persists therefore still with its stemming of somewhat Soviet basis is a traditional Easter dessert called the paskha. Quark or tvorog i.e. farmer’s cheese is the main ingredient that goes into the preparation of this pristine vision in white shaped like a pyramid, very symbolic either way in its definite religious connotations. A delightful indeed dose of festive indulgence is this versatile dishing of either cooked or uncooked cheese incorporating into its delicious embrace a medley of ingredients ranging from butter and eggs and sour cream to raisins and almonds and candied fruits, with spices and aromatics infusing into the sightly immaculateness an essence of as heavenly flavour.
A definite presence in the Easter basket along with such rich Easter breads as the Ukrainian paska or the Russian kulich, alongside which it is served, the pashka is often decorated with religious symbols on the sides. Beyond its steeping in such religious fervor, the paskha though continues to be as alluring as well, plated with nuts, fruits or flowers atop delivering therefore the festive vibes all throughout its expanse of esteemed essence.
Once again a cheesecake with this certain essence embedded as much in its name that indeed is the Swedish term for this most popular of all cheese based dessert, the ostkaka is a traditional dessert from this enticing land of Nordic identity making therefore the dish a true expression of its magically distinct identity. In fact so unique is ostkaka as a dessert that despite its strict translation in literal terms, it tends not to be so much of a cheesecake in the popular sense of it. More appropriately interpreted as the Swedish curd cake would be this dessert of as intriguing origins, deriving from both the regions of Hälsingland and Småland even with definitely persisting differences.
Traditionally prepared with rennet curdled cheese to which flour, eggs, sugar, cream, and almonds are added for a batter that is baked and typically served lukewarm, the ostkaka tends to be as striking even in its taste. In its subtle creaminess that wafts very prominently of the ample almond flavor, this is a pretty deliverance in its lightly browned yielding served typically with jams or fruits or whipped cream and sometimes even ice cream for even more exalted a gastronomic experience.
The European take on cheesy deliciousness in its dishing of the many a thin placintas so integral to the exploration of specific some cuisines might not be exclusively a dessert in its rather wide interpretation of sorts. But popular still is the sweet taking to this pastry across the Romanian, Moldovan and Ukrainian expanse of gastronomic where it takes the form of a small round or square shaped cake filled with cheese. Specifically it is the variety of soft cheese Urda that sums up the delicate premise of the placinta, originally finding expression as an ancient Roman preparation out of fine flour covered with cheese, honey, and fragrant bay leaves.
Of specifically sweet mentions might be the specific Romanian dessert called the branzoaice that interestingly are a staple of the Moldavian or Moldovan cuisine but rest also along an extended trail of taste. With sweetened crumbles of a local Romanian cheese enveloped in the center, most traditionally the rather strong branza de burduf and baked to appetising golden brown perfection, this is another serving of cheesy comfort worth its exploration as a divine dessert.
Eastern European again an exploration of dessert of cheesy leanings, the vatruksha pans as a ring of sweet yeast bread dough embracing once more the quark variant of cheese in its warm middle. Raisins or fruit bits often finds way into the filling as a sweet assertion of a mostly Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian staple that though also allows for savory modes of its making. Fluffy and flavorful, soft and sweet vatrukshas though are what affords an experience of divinity for anyone discovering with delight this traditional cheese based dessert that deviates way beyond the cheesecake commonness.
A style of cheesecake traditional to the culinary ambits of Austria, the topfentorte is yet another quark cheese or curd cheese based cheesy dessert. With a dual layer of sponge cake base encompassing a tangy creamy filling out of the quark cheese topfen flavored essentially with lemon juice and vanilla, this simple but indulgent slice of decadence is much served the typical cheesecake way- chilled, pretty and divinely delicious!
A rare cookie assertion amongst the largely cake biased baking adherences across which cheese discovers sweet perfection is a Polish rendition of rather simplicity. Making though for no any less scrumptious bites of specialness in all their stemming as strictly not round assertions of the cookie clan are these cream cheese cookies known as kolaczki. In another interesting deviation it is the kolaczki dough that harbours the cheesy identity, rendered sweet by the incorporating fruit filling smacking of very traditional flavors that find favor across a range of European countries. Baked to a gentle golden brown and served dusted with powdered sugar is this time consuming but totally worthy delight that presents a taste to relish and a sight to savor alike.