In light of recent news that authentic camembert might soon be going extinct, we’re electing to look on the positive side: Think of all the new cheeses we get to sample in pursuit of finding the perfect alternative.
To help us in our quest to find the ideal substitute (and ensure that we don’t gain 100 pounds by blindly eating our way through the dairy aisle), we turned to the experts at Murray’s Cheese. Murray’s has been a Greenwich Village staple since its opening in 1940, and they now have multiple stores, restaurant partners, and educational cheese workshops, so there’s really no one better suited to provide some guidance.
Here are five cheeses to help you through the camembert crisis —and, more importantly, where to buy them.
To the untrained eye, brie and camembert look pretty similar, and lucky for us certain types of brie taste similar as well. Julia Birnbaum at Murray’s Cheese says this type of brie is her preferred substitute for camembert. “Made by the same cheesemaker as classic camembert, brie fermier’s vegetal, milky flavors and mushroomy rind make it the most successful camembert impersonator,” says Birnbaum.
Murray’s Mini Brie
This particular brie has a deliciously mild creamy, buttery flavor that pairs well with fruity whites (read: ideal for a Parisian-themed summer picnic). While it mimics camembert well, Murray’s mini brie is also great for things that the near-endangered cheese can’t do. “With a milder flavor and a sturdier rind, the beauty of the Murray’s mini brie is that it begs to be wrapped in filo dough and baked—a task that a riper camembert wouldn’t be up for,” offers Birnbaum.
Hudson Valley Camembert
The real French deal may be facing extinction, but this variety made in New York is still going strong. If you’re not willing to waver much from the typical flavor of camembert, Birnbaum suggests trying this version, made with a blend of sheep and cow milk.
“This Hudson Valley recipe diverges slightly from classic camembert with the addition of sheep’s milk, bringing a light tang to the creamy paste,” she says. Clearly, Murray’s take on traditional camembert is doing something right: Their version was named 2011’s American Cheese Society winner.
Double Crème Brie
“Meet camembert’s much friendlier sibling,” says Birnbaum. “With a more buttery paste and subtler vegetable notes, double crème brie is the crowd pleaser you’ve been searching for.”
Another brie from France’s Ile-De-France region, the name really does say it all. This exceptionally creamy wedge is perfect topped with fruit or roasted vegetables, baked in a puff pastry, and even served as a decadent dessert. Serve it warm for the ultimate luxurious-tasting treat.
Harbison is another award-winning cheese—American Cheese Society’s 2015 champ!— that hails from the United States (specifically, Vermont) and oozes cheesy goodness. “Compared to camembert, Harbison takes you a few steps deeper into the forest of funk—in more wheys (heh) than one. Its spruce bark-wrapped exterior adds a woodsy flavor and makes it feel like a ripe camembert that took a walk through the Vermont wilderness,” explains Birnbaum.
Harbison’s near-liquid texture makes it the perfect dip at a dinner party. One wheel serves approximately four to six guests and goes well with crusty bread or your favorite crackers.
Lead image by madebymary.se.