Salted Caramel and Apple Crostata (with a Surprise Ingredient!)

So do you guys know what the difference between a crostata an a galette is? Apparently nothing! The only difference is that a galette is French in origin, while a crostata is Italian. Aside from that, both are free form pies (that is, made from pie dough but not molded into a pie plate), often times filled with fruit. The crust dough shares the same ingredients as pie dough — flour, butter and just a touch of sugar and salt.

Today’s crostata crust, however, has a secret ingredient. Want to know what it is?

Aged Gouda cheese.

Now before you run away in a panic, I swear to God that I’m not crazy! I was skeptical at first too. But the recipe is from Valerie Gordon’s SWEET cookbook, and Valerie Gordon is the owner and founder of Valerie Confections in Los Angeles’s hip Silver Lake district. Her baked goods have been praised by Alice Waters and Nora Ephron, as well as Bon Appetit, House & Garden and Food & Wine. According to Valerie, apple pie and cheddar cheese is an old-time favorites in the diners and coffee shops of yesteryear and her recipe for crostata, which uses Gouda cheese instead of butter in the crust, is simply an update to the classic. When baked in the oven, the cheese caramelizes and provides a wonderful contrast to the salted caramel and apple filling:

Unless you’re looking for it, it’s almost impossible to tell that there is actually cheese in the crust.  I mean if you’re a cheese lover, don’t panic — there’s definitely a salty, savory quality that’s hard to miss in this crust that reminds me of the super-grilled parts of a grilled cheese. But despite this, it’s almost as if the cheese takes on a new flavor, one that’s more similar to caramel and butterscotch. Valerie’s addition of cornmeal to the crust is also some kind of genius, giving the crostata its unique, crunchy texture and beautiful golden color.

So yeah, cheese in pie crusts? I guess I’m one of the converted now. Bring it on. Can’t wait to try the other recipes in Sweet:

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