Taleggio is an amazing cheese from the Val di Taleggio in Bergamo, northern Italy. This cheese has a P.D.O. denomination and so must be produced according to specific EU guidelines, which determine both the area of manufacture as well and the very strict production standards.
The specific regions in which Taleggio can be produced are: Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. Milk must also come from these areas.
A natural, living cheese
Taleggio is a natural, living cheese which keeps on ageing until you eat it. For this reason it needs to be carefully conserved. It is at its very best when eaten 5-7 days from purchase but its life can be extended for weeks by placing it in the fridge ideally wrapped in a slightly damp cloth or in a covering that allows it to breathe, this will keep the rind soft. The rind is edible on this type of cheese, just give it a rub with a dry cloth and it will be perfectly fine.
Healthy and well balanced
The nutritional values of Taleggio are quite interesting since this cheese has an average fat content but is absolutely well balanced. It also contains calcium and phosphorus in a good, highly absorbable combination. The aging of the cheese also improves its digestion.
Taleggio has quite a chewy consistency and a sweet, slightly fruity tang. The body of the cheese is softer immediately beneath the rind (which should be a natural pink colour) as the cheese is subject to centripetal ageing: a process whereby the cheese matures from the outside towards the middle.
It is a perfect cheese for a quick antipasto and can be easily paired-up with autumnal fruit such as apples and pears. You can savour it on warm toast with an apple compôte or with millefiori honey or orange jam. Moreover, Taleggio makes for a great ingredient in recipes. You can easily melt it in virtually anything you like and it is perfect to blend in pastas or risottos with chicory.
Here are a couple of interesting recipes with Taleggio you that can easily try on your own!
1. Gnocchi with Taleggio Fondue
Gnocchi make a great alternative to pasta and are actually quite easy to make. If you don’t have time, buy some good quality ready-made ones from the supermarket or deli and just add the fresh Taleggio Fondue sauce!
Ingredients for four people
For the gnocchi:
1 kg white potatoes
250g wheat flour
For the Taleggio Fondue:
150g Taleggio PDO
75 ml double cream
100g chopped Walnuts
Step 1. Wash and clean your potatoes then boil them in 2 litres of salted water. Peel them while still hot then mash them in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Step 2. Add the flour and knead into a ball of dough. Knead the dough on a flat surface covered in flour and cut two inch strips that you will roll out and then cut into dumplings.
Step 3. Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until they surface, then take them out and place them in the fondue you will have made in the meantime.
Step 4. To make the fondue, melt the butter into a saucepan and then add the Taleggio and 50 ml of cream. Once all is melted add the rest of the cream slowly and turn off the hob.
Place the gnocchi in the fondue and sprinkle with walnuts and a bit of freshly ground pepper.
2. Taleggio Cheesecake with Blueberries and Honey
Taleggio works really well in a traditional cheesecake as it melts really nicely and has a mild, fruity tang.
For the base
150g Digestive biscuits
80g salted butter
For the cream
500 ml. sweetened condensed milk
200g Taleggio PDO
200g fresh cream cheese (Philadelphia)
200ml single cream
200g fresh blueberries
For the base:
Grease a spring-release tin (bottom and sides) and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter.
Crush the biscuits, mix them with the melted butter and line the bottom of the tin with the mixture. Place in the fridge for about half an hour.
For the cream:
Remove the rind from the Taleggio and cut into small cubes.
Heat 50ml of cream in a saucepan, add the Taleggio cubes and melt on a low heat, mixing with a wooden spoon. Leave to cool, mixing frequently.
Pour the condensed milk, the fresh cream cheese, honey and the rest of the cream into a large bowl and mix well with an electric whisk at low speed. Add the Taleggio cream, blending it with the other ingredients, and pour the mixture onto the biscuit base.
Leave in the fridge overnight
Before serving, release the upper part of the tin and decorate the surface with blueberries and icing sugar.