After so many pretty pictures of cabecou or "little goat" turned up on blogs and the Cheesepalooza facebook page, I had to try my hand at it. Take one look and I think you'll agree!
Cabecou is a classic French goat cheese that is formed into little rounds then aged or ripened for 10 to 15 days, according to our guide. It can be ripened into a soft spreadable cheese or left longer to reach a texture and firmness that you are able to grate. The one that caught my eye the most was the marinated version, which yielded both a supple and flavourful cheese as well as a fragrant oil that could be used for dipping or finishing. Though, after the success and rave reviews of the ricotta salata, I think I'm going to make not only the marinated version but also the dry salted versions again very soon.
I had prepped a basic chevre already and moved it to a nice warm place in the oven while I prepped the cabecou. Once again, I set down to work and realized -similar to my first attempt at goat cheese- that I lacked the C20G that Mary outlined as the ideal culture for this cheese. But, since I had already learned so many lessons from that first goat cheese attempt, I felt infinitely more comfortable making an adjustment here.
4 L whole goat's milk
1/4 teaspoon Aroma B
2 drops of liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup non-chlorinated water
I heated the milk to 75 F on the lowest heat setting on my stovetop. It took about 20+ minutes since I didn't use the double boiler method.
When the milk reaches temperature, I moved it off of the heat and sprinkled the Aroma B starter over the surface of the milk. After leaving it to dissolve for about 5 minutes, it is stirred into the milk. Then the rennet is added in the same fashion.
I covered the pot with tin foil, then two heavy dish towels, to keep as much heat as possible in the milk. Then, it joined the chevre in the oven to do its thing overnight.
In the morning - success! Not only did I have a perfect chevre, I also had some delightfully separated cabecou!
Set the crottin moulds on a draining rack. Ladle the curds into the moulds until they are full. Once full, cover and let drain at room temperature.
After two days of draining, the cheeses will have reduced in size by half to two-thirds.
One day of draining...
Two days of draining...
Remove the rounds from the moulds, salt the surface, then leave them to dry on a cheese mat (in a container but not sealed) in your refrigerator. Flip them over the next day. Then flip them again on the second day. If they're dry to the touch, you're set.
You can age them as a dry-salted cheese or marinate away!
I layered peppercorns, herbs de provence (and even a bouquet garni de provence that I had from a trip to Paris), bay leaves with (1) olive oil and (2) grapeseed oil. Leave to marinade for a week or two, then enjoy!
A few thoughts:
- It might have been good to note that Mary's recipe was for 2 quarts of milk that yielded four smaller cheeses after draining in their crottin moulds. I used 4 litres and 4 moulds, so my cabecou cheeses were significantly larger than a traditional or proper cabecou. They were still tasty but definitely a heftier goat. :) (I really need to work on my reading comprehension!)
More than double the proper size!
- Treat this cheese as though you are making a basic chevre... be gentle with your heat, maintain it overnight, give it time to drain, enjoy your result. Don't be aggressive with any part of it or your cheese will be a flop.
- These are perfect for little presents! Make a batch and bestow them on some very fortunate friends... you'll be a star.
- Since the cheese itself is quite mild, use your imagination with the marinade. I went more traditional for this batch but plan on adapting for my next attempts.
- The olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator. The grapeseed will not.
T A S T I N G N O T E S
- Appearance - "Looks soft and decadent in that oil with all of the spicy deliciousness."
- Nose - Olive oil predominately. Or grapeseed in the case of that marinade.
- Overall Taste - Very creamy. Herby.
- Sweet to Salty - Sweeter but "goaty."
- Mild to Robust - Mild in terms of goat cheese. Mild to medium otherwise.
- Mouth Feel - Creamy. Nice with a cracker or something with crunch for a bit of texture.