Vacherin with walnuts and muscat grapes

Vacherin with walnuts and muscat grapes

By
From
How I cook
Serves
8
Photographer
Jason Lowe

One of the few truly seasonal cheeses, vacherin becomes available in early December, heralding the start of Christmas festivities. By February it will be gone for another year. Traditionally it is served very slightly warm, which brings out its sweet, nutty flavour and enhances its creamy texture.

Here I’m serving it with young, still slightly wet walnuts and muscat grapes – both are perfect to nibble alongside. If possible, buy dried muscat grapes, which have an intensely sweet raisin flavour.

Normally I would serve cheese before the dessert course, as they do in France, but here I think it is better placed last – so guests can savour a morsel now and then as the evening moves forward. It’s a way of celebrating the vacherin’s brevity just a little longer.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 handfuls (or more) fresh walnuts in their shells
1 vacherin, about 400g
2 tablespoons walnut oil
bunch muscat grapes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Meanwhile, gently crack open the walnuts – I use a wooden rolling pin rather than a nutcracker – leaving them in their half-shells.
  2. Place the walnuts on a small baking tray. Remove the lid from the vacherin and place on another small baking tray. Place the baking trays side by side on the middle shelf of the oven and warm both through for about 10 minutes. The cheese should be soft and warm to the touch, but not oozing.
  3. Spoon the walnut oil over the nuts. Place the cheese on a board and arrange the nuts and grapes alongside. Provide a large serving spoon, for vacherin should always be spooned rather than sliced.

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