Simple Pleasures 1: Cheddar & Tart Apples


Funny thing on this blog, there are two types of posts that get lots and lots of attention: extremely complex pastries like Opera cake, and extremely simple preparations like vanilla pudding. Lately I’ve thought it might be fun to create a new category of one-off posts covering very simplest of sweet and after-dinner pleasures, so simple in fact that no preparation might be needed at all.

The apple conversation this week got me thinking about this, a classic old-timey combo, one of my late grandfather’s favorite autumn snacks: Cheddar cheese and Granny Smith apples. The sharper the cheese… and the tarter the apple the better he liked it. Of course he wasn’t along in his love for the combo. Lots of folks, especially in rural areas here in the Midwest, used to favor a slab of sharp Cheddar alongside a nice piece of hot apple pie.

I used to think that was crazy. Then I tried it. I’ll never go back to ice cream!

33 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures 1: Cheddar & Tart Apples”

  1. Sorry for the off topic comment, but is there a way to expand multiple posts at once now? I think the website update is gorgeous, but I miss that feature (with the last version you could do it by viewing the archive by month). It’s especially helpful on days like today where there are multiple posts.

    Back on topic, I do love the idea of one-off simple pleasures posts. Those kinds of things so rarely make it on blogs because they don’t seem special enough, but often they’re some of the most delicious foods we can make.

    1. Hey V!

      Now that I’ve gotten some of my technical problems fixed I’ll look into that!


      – Joe

  2. I was working in a hotel banquet operation the first time I saw apple pie with cheddar (it is an easy way to do desert for 500, no way ice cream would work unless you had 100 servers) it struck me as odd until I tasted it. Also grapes with feta and a bit of brown sugar, works with cream cheese or sour cream too in a pinch.

    Mom used to make little 2-bite deserts for parties, one I remember was broiled figs with a thin slice of parmesan on it. It amazed me how well those two went together.

    1. That’s a simple pleasure that I’ll put up soon. Fresh figs or dried?

      – Joe

      1. fresh.

        I have done this for family & made a balsamic reduction because that is a thing to do now-a-days.

  3. My folks brought the custom of cheddar and apple pie from New Jersey to California in the 1940s! I still prefer it that way.

    1. And you’ve been the beneficiary ever since! So it’s a West Coast thing as well. Who knew?


      – Joe

  4. It’s not just the midwest – I was raised in Alaska, and my dad used to “lift the hood” of his slice of hot apple pie, slide in a few thin slices of cheddar, and let it melt before he’d eat it.

    1. Alaska?? Wow. And yeah i’ve seen that too. I watched my uncle do it once. I’ve never tried that but I will!


      – Joe

    1. Interesting. And here I thought it was a Midwestern thing. Thanks Cath!

      – Joe

      1. I think the tradition in NE relates to the growing season. Plenty of apples & sharp cheddar around, not so much the bananas, say, for dessert & breakfast (slice of pie w/a slab of cold cheddar for breakfast–wonder if there’s a regional difference for cold versus melted or in the crust?).
        As a kid, I’d see it on the menu in NE yet not out visiting in the Midwest. But maybe that’s because it was something regionally done at home & a la mode was for dining out?

  5. My father, born and raised in Boston, used to say, “An apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.”

  6. Yup, I thought it was just New England too. With the sharpest “rat trap” cheese you could find.

    Sometimes we put cheese in the crust…

  7. Similar thought here, I “accidentally” mixed home made blue cheese dressing with fresh pineapple about 20 years ago and fell in love with the contrast of flavors. Now it is a family statement to others and each other: “Pineapple an Blue Cheese” when ever anyone questions combining different foods or spices together!

  8. Quick and simple dessert: cut up or break up meringues (can use store-bought), layer in a glass with berries (raspberries or strawberries or a combination) and slightly sweetened whipped cream. Looks great, tastes great and super easy. Even better with home made meringues.

    1. That is called Eton Mess. It is an actual thing, and is very delicious. But it is not really at all like trifle Joe.

  9. Cheese with fruit of some sort is actually a very European tradition. My father and his mother (born in England in the late 1800s) regularly ate cheese with jam (Dutch) and cheese with preserved ginger (very sweet) as an hors-d’oeuvre. Breakfast in a hotel in Amsterdam 40 or so years ago consisted of cheese and jam and toast.

    1. Hey Vivien!

      Yes I like cheese with fig jam especially. I’ll have to put up some of those!

      Many thanks!

      – Joe

  10. The first time I saw the cheddar crust/apple pie combo was here in Nashville. When I moved I had been considering becoming a pastry chef. I was hired by a local hotel to be a trainee in their pastry kitchen. I made hundreds of those things and after doing that could not bring myself to eat them so I still don’t know if I would enjoy the combo. But as Frankly mentions, I do like apples and grapes with a cheese plate, so guess that’s in the same flavor ballpark. BTW – the head chef at the restaurant was from Pittsburgh, so maybe he brought that combo with him. Also I learned after 6 months that working in a hotel pastry shop is not for the weak and now know why pastry chefs are often very burly fellows.

    1. Hey Linda!

      Yeah a hotel pastry department really puts you through your paces! Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

  11. and then there is the other classic fruit and cheese combination – pear and Stilton. Bartletts are the best known, and sweet and almost creamy in texture, but I love the Bosc pear best. Down South, the only pear that will grow in our warm clime is the Kiefer pear, or sand pear, as some call it. The texture is very grainy, but it has a wonderful musky scent and flavor.

    1. Hey Cynthia!

      I have a terrible confession to make: I don’t like blue cheese. As someone who loves to eat, I cannot help but be ashamed of myself. But if I did like Stilton, that’s the first thing I’d eat. Thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

      1. My, dear, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for you. On the other hand – more Stilton for me!

        1. Yes I consider it a learning disability. But yep, all the more for those who love it!

          – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *