I can’t think of any other food product as authentically Norwegian as brunost (“brown cheese”), or gjestost (goat cheese). This unique cheese goes by both names and is made from goat or cow milk or a combination of both. More correctly, I should say it is actually more like fudge than cheese, as it is caramelized whey leftover from cheese making, that is pressed into a cube to look like and be consumed as cheese. Gjetost is the symbol of Norwegian food culture. In a previous post I explained all about this cheese and its history, if you haven’t read it I strongly encourage you to do so by clicking here. I mentioned there that when showing this cheese to Americans or any other foreigners, upon first glance they would mistake it for either caramel or nougat, dulce de leche, toffee or some sort of chocolate. I guess it can look like that when cut like this:
Geitost truly is an incredible product, packed with layers of flavors that gets the mind working the minute it hits your lips. While most people use it as a topping on pieces of bread or crackers (for breakfast or lunch), on waffles or in savory foods, it is less common to see it used in sweet dishes, like dessert. This is a shame, because it has the ability to contribute a wonderful nutty, caramelized flavor with a lot of depth to dishes like pie, cakes, sweet rolls and even sauces to be poured over ice cream!
A few years ago I was so happy to see that Norseland started to import “Ekte Geitost” to the U.S. Previously only Ski Queen was available in the U.S., and while that is also a wonderful product with a very similar flavor profile, I got a special “homecoming” feeling when I saw the Ekte Geitost in the stores. This is how the packaging looks like:
Ekte Geitost, means “Real goat cheese”, is made from 100% goat milk, and has an intense sweet, caramel flavor that turns tangy, and then finishes slightly salty. It is incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way. Ekte Geitost is perhaps the style of brunost with a taste that most resembles the way this cheese was made on the farms in Norway in the old days. Slightly milder and rounder than other cheese, it is my clear favorite among the many types Tine makes today (and there are many!). Here are a couple of others – snapped at a grocery store in Norway last month:
I wanted to come up with a recipe to showcase how this cheese can be utilized in a dessert, and by trying out a few different recipes, I finally came up with a strudel type dessert. A strudel is a layered pastry, originally from Hungary with a sweet filling (sometimes savory), which is often served with powdered sugar. The dough used in Hungary and Austria is very elastic, and is not a puff pastry traditional in other countries. I made a simple butter dough, filled with tart and sweet apples mixed with some sugar and cinnamon, crushed almonds and shredded gjetost and baked in the oven…. what could go wrong here? Nothing! Apples and cheese go well together in both pies and grilled cheese sandwiches, so why not add in gjetost? They came together so harmoniously you would think they were created for each other, I was really pleased with how this dessert came out!
Try this out this weekend for Father’s Day if you can get a hold of this cheese in your town – a lot of American gourmet stores (and even regular grocery stores) carry the Ski Queen, and in larger cities also the “Ekte Geitost”. Either cheese would be just fine in the strudel. I think you will make Dad happy with this one!
APPLE STRUDEL WITH GEITOST
1 cup (250g) all purpose flour
1/2 stick (50g) unsalted butter, cubed
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
melted butter for brushing strudel dough
4 large Gala/Jona Gold/Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
juice from 1 lemon to keep apples from browning
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
3 tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon
125 g (4 1/4 oz) or 1/2 cup shredded Ekte Geitost
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Combine all ingredients for strudel dough (including the salt) in a food processor and combine until it comes together. Dump onto a surface and knead into a disc, and let rest /chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F and spray or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium low heat, add the butter, sugar and cinnamon and heat through until it melts and everything is combined. Pour into a bowl and add the apples. Set aside.
Roll out the dough to a large, thin rectangle, about 14 x 20 inches, dusting with flour as needed so as to not tear the dough. It’s important to get it thin enough but also thick enough so it won’t break when you fill it. Place the apple-nut mixture in a row in the middle (make sure it is not very liquidy, as that will assist in tearing the dough), and top with the shredded cheese.
Fold /roll the dough over the filling and place onto the baking sheet. Brush generously with melted butter and bake in the oven in the middle rack for 30-35 minutes until the top if golden brown. Cool slightly and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Delicious when served with vanilla bean ice cream!
You can purchase Ekte Geitost at Scandinavian Butik either online or visit them at 349 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Tel (203) 529-3244. They are open Mon-Sat from 10am-5pm, closed on Sundays.