A crusty mini-sandwich filled with oozy truffled cheese is my kind of appetizer. With sparkling wine it’s the happy hour of my dreams. But which truffled cheese? You may have noticed the soaring number of options in this category. Alas, they are not all dreamy. Some are too muted or heavy handed, with blatantly fake truffle aroma. With others, the base cheese is just not that interesting. Here are six I enjoy:
Boschetto al Tartufo: From the experts at Tuscany’s Il Forteto, this semisoft wheel is one of the few truffled cheeses to incorporate white truffle. Part sheep’s milk, part cow’s milk, with an authentic truffle aroma. Stir it into polenta or use it, as I did, to make the grilled-cheese bites pictured above.
Crémeux des Cîteaux: Renowned affineur Rodolph le Meunier dreamed this one up, and it could not be more luscious. He cuts a young triple-cream cheese in half horizontally and spreads black truffle in between. Reassembled, the two halves knit back together and a fluffy cloak of white mold masks any sign of the surgery. It tastes like a blend of truffled whipped butter and crème fraîche.
Caprino Cremoso al Tartufo: From Italy’s Piedmont region, this little goat’s milk disk has some cream added to make it super-silky. The minced black truffle on the surface may not look like much but it amply perfumes the interior. Put the cheese in a lightly oiled ramekin and warm it in the oven until it quivers, then serve with toasts.
Pecorino Moliterno al Tartufo: From Sardinia, this firm sheep’s milk wheel is one of the rare truffled cheeses with some age on it (10 to 12 months). The make process (cheese-speak for recipe) is also highly unusual, with black truffle paste injected into the wheel partway through aging. Grate this beauty over pasta or add to risotto with butternut squash or cauliflower.
Sottocenere: This semisoft raw cow’s milk wheel from Italy’s Veneto region is laced with chopped black truffle and matured for about three months. The rind is coated with truffle oil and a mixture of ash and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, scents you may pick up faintly in the cheese. Sottocenere (“under the ashes”) is a great melter.
Truf Tre Latti: A mixed-milk cheese (cow, sheep and goat) matured for only about three weeks, Truf Tre Latti is soft and pudgy, as delicate as tofu, with a paper-thin, floury rind and flecks of black truffle. I love the texture. The producer—the Caseificio dell’Alta Langa in Piedmont—makes the popular mixed-milk La Tur as well.
Truffled Grilled-Cheese Mini Bites
4 slices high-quality sandwich bread
Softened unsalted butter, about 2 tablespoons
¼ pound truffled cheese such as Boschetto al Tartufo or Sottocenere, grated
Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread one side of each slice with softened butter. Turn two of the slices over and top them with the grated cheese, dividing it evenly. Top each with another slice of bread, buttered side up.
Heat two nonstick skillets over medium heat. Put one sandwich in each skillet and cook until the bottom is richly browned, about 3 minutes; lower the heat if needed to keep it from burning. Flip carefully with a spatula and cook on the second side until it is nicely browned, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each sandwich into six pieces. Serve hot!