Simple Baked Cheese ~ a memorable appetizer that’s as easy as it sounds!
It doesn’t sound like much, but this is one of the great culinary experiences out there. An homage to the awesome power of extreme heat; it chars the bread and transforms the cheese. It falls into the category of ridiculously simple but impressive and romantic appetizers. Or dinners, even. That’s how we had ours, with a salad and wine.
The Fontina melts like a dream, and the Gruyere gives it a robust flavor. It’s like a mini fondue, and I even added some kirsch for an authentic flavor, but you could also use white wine, brandy, or sherry. The grilled bread makes all the difference, make sure you get it a little charred!
All you have to do is cube the cheese, add a splash of olive oil and spirits, then sprinkle a few fresh herbs across the top. The broiler does the rest in about 10 minutes.
Don’t forget to rub your grilled bread with a half clove of garlic while it’s still warm.
- 1/4 lb Fontina cheese
- 1/4 lb Gruyere cheese
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Kirschwasser (you can use white wine, brandy, or sherry in its place)
- fresh thyme
- fresh chives
- a nice fresh baguette
- 1 clove garlic, sliced in half
- Slice the bread, I like to do it on the bias to get more surface area. You'll need approximately 8 to 10 slices. Heat a grill pan over medium to high heat and toast the slices until they are browned and slightly charred, about 4-5 minutes per side. Watch them carefully. While the bread is still warm, run the cut side of the garlic along the surface, this will give it a nice subtle flavor. Set aside.
- Remove the rinds and cut the cheese into cubes, about 1/2 to 1 inch. Put them in a small cast iron pan, or other small broiler-friendly pan, about 5-6 inches in diameter. Add the oil and Kirsch. Sprinkle the herbs across the cheese.
- Broil about 5 inches from the broiler for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. The time will depend on your pan, your oven, and how far your pan is from the heating element. I put my rack on the highest position and it took 10 minutes. Watch it like a hawk.
- Serve right away with the grilled bread.
This recipe is slightly adapted from chezspense, who slightly adapted it from The Barefoot Contessa
This is a modest combination of ingredients that has a really big impact, and just one more example of how simple is usually best.