Have you ever considered pairing tea with cheese? Think about your last Cucumber and Cream Cheese Tea Sandwich. I’m guessing you can remember the tartness of the cheese, and (if you had it with tea) how the brew brought those flavors to life. Cheese and wine often make ideal partners, but the next time you find yourself in the funky smelling cheese section of your favorite gourmet store, think of the leaves and not the liquor. Tea has a way of highlighting rich cheese flavors, whether sharp, tangy, or just plain stinky!
This simple recipe for cheese crisps is made with any semi-hard or hard cheese. I’ve made these with strong English Cheddar, Swiss Gruyère, and Italian Pecorino Romano all with great results. Today I’m using everyone’s favorite, a nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano, which you can easily buy pre-grated if you find yourself short on time.
My cutesy embellishment for these crisps is a little heart of lean Canadian Bacon which develops a lovely caramelized finish as it cooks. These crisps take mere minutes to make, but are surprisingly elegant when paired with other yummy nibbles like cornichon, olives, or marinated peppers…an ideal way to kick off any romantic Valentine’s Day soirée.
English or Irish Breakfast Tea, Keemun, and Darjeeling all make great pairings to these Canadian Bacon Cheese Crisps. The full-bodied strength of these black teas make them like red wine, able to stand up to the complex umami flavors in robustly flavored cheeses. But don’t take my word for it…find and discover your own favorite tea and cheese pairings! Assam and Gouda? Darjeeling and Havarti? Sencha and Goat Cheese? If you love tea and love cheese, let the culinary adventures begin!
Canadian Bacon Cheese Crisps
Makes 15 crisps.
5 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
5 pieces Canadian bacon
dried parsley (optional)
flat top griddle or large skillet
round metal cookie cutter, 2 1/4″
1 Tbsp measure
large baking sheet, lined with paper towels
small heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional)
1.) Cut out heart shapes from the Canadian bacon using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter. I was able to get 3 hearts out of one bacon slice. Blot them with a paper towel to remove excess moisture from the surface. Set aside.
2.) Place the round cookie cutter on a flat top griddle, then spoon out 1 Tbsp of the grated cheese in the center of the cutter. Spread the cheese out with your finger so that it lays even in thickness in the cutter. Remove the cutter, then repeat the process as many times as the size of your griddle allows. Leave 1″ between each patch of cheese.
3.) Turn on the griddle to 350 degrees F or med-high heat (if using stove top) under a skillet. Heat the cheese until melts, for several minutes until the fat starts to render out. When the edges of the cheese start to brown and the cheese looks semi-set, use paper towels to blot off the now liquid fat. Gently lay the paper towel even to the surface of the cheese and the fat should easily wick up. Push a “heart” of Canadian bacon in the center of the melted cheese.
4.) Flip the cheese crisp over to brown the other side. Cook for a few minutes, checking occasionally to see when the bacon “hearts” are nicely browned but not burned. Remove the crisps from the griddle using a thin spatula. Park them on a paper towel lined baking sheet until hardened. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cheese crisp with dried parsley to finish.