The Best Cheese To Pair With Holiday Sugar Cookies

Looking to turn your annual cookie swap into a more grown-up affair? Introduce an element of savory sophistication by pairing cheese with your cookies. For some expert input, Food Republic spoke to Chad Galer, Vice President of Product Innovation and Food Safety at Dairy Management Inc. Galer clued us into the unorthodox-sounding but delectable pairing of peppermint bark and alpine cheese, and he also has a pairing idea for the most classic holiday cookie out there: the frosted sugar cookie.

Whether decorated like a green tree, a glittering white snowflake, or a cheerful red Santa, sugar cookies with a delicious royal icing are a classic part of holiday dessert spreads. According to Galer, the pleasant but one-note sweetness of these cookies can use a lift from uber-savory, umami-rich parmesan. As Galer put it, "The parmesan's savory, complex, and slightly fruity flavor can cut through the sweetness of the sugar cookie." So how should you go about bringing this cheesy element to your cookie plate? 

Serving parmesan with sugar cookies

First, let's talk about some brand recommendations. Galer recommends Sartori Sarvecchio Parmesan, an award-winning product produced in Wisconsin and aged for 20 months. Both Boar's Head and Il Villaggio offer authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy, aged for 24 months and 18 months respectively. 

Keep in mind that the longer the cheese is aged, the sharper and spicier the flavor will be. An 18-month-old parmesan will have creamier and more mild notes than a sharp 2-year-aged cheese, but both will work to complement sugar cookies. Your choice depends on whether or not you and your guests enjoy strong flavors. As for what style to buy, skip the pre-shredded parmesan and opt for wedges or hunks carved directly from whole wheels.  

Once you've picked your parmesan, consider serving small slices on a plate next to your cookie display. You could also break a wedge into rough nuggets and skewer them with toothpicks, making it easy for guests to serve themselves. Crackers and toast are optional, as your cookies should serve as the carb accompaniment. If you'd like to get a bit creative, you could grate some fresh parmesan directly over your frosted cookies for the ultimate sweet-savory mashup. Whatever you choose, you'll be surprised that such a kid-friendly holiday sweet plays so well with a mature, refined cheese.