Disclaimer: Thanks to Arla Foods USA for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to develop a recipe for Arla, a global dairy company with production facilities in 12 countries, and the largest organic dairy company in the world.
For the creation of this post I received a package containing 3 premium cheeses under the Castello brand Alps Selection: Hirten, Classic, and Weissbier. Each of the cheeses has a unique taste and texture, and is crafted through intricate artisanal techniques from milk produced on small farms in the Alps.
CASTELLO ALPS SELECTION HIRTEN
This premium hard cheese has a deep orange color, a rich complex taste, and crumbly texture (similar to a Parmesan). It is ideal for pasta dishes, as well as for sandwiches with savory ingredients. It pairs well with red wines such as Rioja, Tempranillo or even Sauvignon.
CASTELLO ALPS SELECTION CLASSIC
This premium cheese has a firm texture and smooth consistency, slightly smoky aroma, and spicy taste, and melts when heated. It is ideal for cheese boards with artisan breads and prosciutto or sun-dried tomatoes. It pairs well with full-bodied red wines, white Bourgogne, or any brown ale of your choosing.
CASTELLO ALPS SELECTION WEISSBIER
This premium comfort cheese offers a smooth buttery texture and mild taste with a hint of nutty sweetness. It melts quite well when heated and is wonderful with figs, poached fruits, and also grilled vegetables. Absolutely my favorite of all three cheeses!!! It pairs with Reisling, Gewurztraminer, and other white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc.
Creating a recipe with a focus on the American market was rewarding– it was a unique chance to put to use what I have learned about American cuisine both from culinary school and by living in the USA for the last 11 years. Although given the option of choosing any one of the three cheeses to develop a recipe upon, I decided to make use of all three of the high-quality, delicious cheeses. I drew inspiration from one of my favorite regional American cuisines — Creole!!! But my goal was to create something to highlight the cheeses, the real stars of our dish…
Since figs pair so well with the Castello Alps Selection Weissbier cheese, I made a Fig Foster filling instead of using the traditional bananas, and added to it praline pecans to accentuate the nutty sweetness of this cheese. A German contribution to Creole cuisine, black pepper, was also incorporated into the filling along with rosemary, in order to highlight the herbal and spicy notes of the Castello Classic. Bearing in mind both how ideal Castello Hirten is for sandwiches and the Italian contribution to Creole heritage, I decided to make panini. But the dish simultaneously ended up becoming a fruit dessert due to its fruity sweet filling. And to bring out the influence of NOLA’s cuisine even more, I covered the top of our panini with powdered sugar– just like a beignet. 🙂 This is how we ended up with our Castello Moments Triple Cheese and Spicy Fig Foster Paignets with Praline Pecans, a.k.a Castello Moments Paignets!!!
This dish immediately became a family favorite, but above all, we just couldn’t keep ourselves from noshing on the cheeses all by themselves.
Oh, and that’s not all!!! Did you know that you also have the chance to win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home? To enter, click on the banner at the bottom of this post.
I hope that you enjoy my paignets as much as my family and I did, and wish you the best of luck in winning the wonderful Private Cheese Tasting sponsored by Arla Foods USA… Bon Appétit!!
Castello Moments Triple Cheese and Spicy Fig Foster Paignets with Praline Pecans
(Castello Moments Paignets)
Yield: 2 Castello Panini/Paignets
Segment: From My Table To Yours
For the Fig Foster:
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 ounces)
1 cup light brown sugar
6 fresh large figs, halved lengthwise and quartered
A pinch of black pepper
1/3 cup dark rum
2 tablespoons praline pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
For the Panini/Paignets:
Non-stick cooking spray or oil to brush griddle pan
4 slices from a French bread loaf
2 thin slices of Castello Classic cheese
2 thin slices of Castello Weissbier cheese
Castello Hirten cheese crumbs, to taste
Powdered sugar to sprinkle
1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar, mix thoroughly, and reserve.
2. In a large skillet, combine the butter and brown sugar; then, place the pan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts completely and the mixture caramelizes to a creamy, rich brown color. This process requires approximately 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the figs quarters to the skillet, sprinkle pepper on top, and cook for approximately 1 minute, stirring gently every now and then. Remove pan from the heat, pour rum into the pan, return pan to the heat, and carefully ignite with a long match, or just tilt the skillet to ignite. Note: Never pour the alcohol straight from the bottle if the pan is on the stove; any splash back can ignite, and the flame can travel into the bottle.
4. Scatter the cinnamon-sugar mixture directly over the flame. As the flames die, stir gently to combine all the ingredients and add both the chopped praline pecans and rosemary. Use the warm Figs Foster as a filling for the paignets.
5. For the panini/paignets: Heat a large cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat and either spray on the non-stick cooking spray or brush pan surface with oil. Place 2 slices of bread in the pan and let crisp and acquire grill marks, about 3-4 minutes (on just one side of each slice of bread). Remove slices from the pan and set aside. Then, place the other two remaining slices of bread in the pan, and top each with one slice of Classic cheese and then one slice of Weissbier cheese. Reduce heat to medium, cover the two slices of bread on the grill pan with a larger, inverted skillet, and let cheeses melt, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to individual serving plates. Spoon half of the warm Fig Foster filling on top of the melted cheeses, top figs with crumbs of the Castello Hirten cheese, and place one slice of the reserved grilled bread on top. Sift powdered sugar on top of each slice of grilled bread and serve immediately with a glass of red wine. Bon appétit!!
Win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home – enter by clicking on the banner below. Castello Moments and this post is a collaboration between the blogger and Arla Foods USA.