The Good: Tastes good, Melts well, Flavor comes out when melted.
The Bad: Not terribly sharp or distinctive, A little pricey
The Basics: Flavorful when melted, Yancey's Fancy NY Maple Cheddar is a good cheese.
It has been my very good fortune to suddenly have a windfall in cheeses compliments of Yancey's Fancy, a magnificent cheese manufacturer located more or less in my neck of the woods (Upstate New York). Because of their generosity, I have had the opportunity to get several bricks of cheese to taste, experiment with and review. And I think it is important to mention that up front for two reasons: 1. I do not want to be accused of bias (especially after the glowing review I gave the XXX Cheddar) and 2. I consider quite carefully what I rate a cheese when the company has been so kind to me.
That said, Yancey's Fancy NY Maple Cheddar Cheese initially disappointed me, but when I heated it up, it became not only a delightful accent cheese, but arguably the ultimate garnish for breakfast sandwiches, omelets, and more. There is a debate in the circles of cheese lovers as to whether or not cheese ought to be used as a garnish or if it ought to always be purely enjoyed. There is no better argument for the former than Yancey's Fancy NY Maple Cheddar.
Yancey's Fancy is a small cheese company in Upstate New York (where we are actually known for cheese). They specialize in making "artisan cheeses," which are fancier cheeses designed more for enjoyment on their own as opposed to as a garnish of other things, though NY Maple Cheddar seems to buck that trend!
The NY Maple Cheddar Cheese is one of Yancey's Fancy's New York Artisan Cheese, distinguished by its brown wax coating. This is a pasteurized process cheddar which is aged for an undefined number of months (it does not say on the package, but we assume more than six months). As a result, it is a somewhat softer cheddar cheese equivalent to a standard mild cheddar. It is very easy to cut with a cheese knife or cheese plane and it does not fracture like many, sharper, cheddars might. Because this is a fancy cheese, it is a bit more expensive than some of the more common brands and locally we find it at about $9.99/lb. for the NY Maple Cheddar.
Ease Of Preparation
This is cheese, not tapping maple trees for sap in the winter, so preparing the NY Maple Cheddar Cheese is as easy as slicing open the plastic package and removing the brown wax that surrounds the actual cheese. The wax is not at all poisonous, but there is no reason I can find to eat it. Fortunately, it peels off of this soft cheddar very easily. One need only be attentive to the temperature surrounding this cheese as it will melt at higher temperatures. At room temperature, it may sit out and it retains its shape nicely without getting soft in any way that makes it awkward to simply cut and eat pieces of it.
When used on a burger, this melted at a decent speed and was quite good. It handles like a standard cheddar for melting needs. In fact, it melts very quickly in an egg omlette and even when places on top of fried or scrambled eggs for an egg and meat sandwich, this melts quickly.
The NY Maple Cheddar cheese smells undeniably, deliciously, like maple. This is the essential smell of maple syrup or maple sugar candy. In this way, the cheese prepares the consumer for a delicious, complex flavor unlike any they have ever had.
Unfortunately, on its own, this quickly turns into disappointment. Despite the amazing smell, the cheese is a very bland cheddar flavor. In fact, the more I consumed of the NY Maple Cheddar straight, the more disappointed I became because the taste was not so much analogous to a mild cheddar cheese as it was to a standard American cheese. American cheese shall never be the bastion of cheese flavor and any cheddar would do well to avoid tasting like one.
However, what makes the NY Maple Cheddar complex and almost deceptive is its taste when warmed and melted. Melted, the NY Maple Cheddar takes on a sharper taste and finishes with a sweet, distinctly maple flavored taste. In fact, heated up on anything from a breakfast sandwich to a hamburger, the NY Maple Cheddar becomes a unique flavor that can accent or dominate the dish it is on in the most delightful of ways. When melted, the maple flavor is more than just a smell.
I love cheese and it is hard for me to care about the nutrition of it because it is so delicious I want to eat it regardless of the contents! The ridiculously small recommended serving of this artisan cheese is 1 oz., which the packaging estimates at approximately a one inch cube. Even mild cheddar cheeses seldom net so little consumption in a single sitting!
This is a cheese, so it's not like it is going to have a health food value to it. That said, the recommended serving size has 128 calories, eighty of which are from fat. The NY Maple Cheddar Cheese has no trans fat, 9 grams total fat of which five are saturated fat. That represents 25% of the RDA of saturated fat, so those who use this in recipes will pretty much be damning themselves to a week without any other saturated fats. Still, it can be worth it on a breakfast sandwich with ham! As well, there is 9% of the RDA of cholesterol, 11% of the daily sodium, 25% of one's needed calcium and 5% of your daily Vitamin A in the cheese. There is a negligible amount of carbs (less than three grams) and 6 grams of protein. In other words, this is not the greatest food to try to live on on its own.
Even so, having reviewed a lot of different foods, this is not the worst food in the world by any stretch of the imagination. The ingredients are quite simply cheddar cheese, maple syrup, natural maple flavors and a lone preservative (trisodium citrate). That makes it mostly natural and that is a refreshing change from many mass-produced cheeses. This food is - obviously - a dairy product, but it contains absolutely no alcohol.
This is a cheese, so some care must be maintained in its handling. Refrigeration is recommended (actually, it doesn't mention that on the package, but it seems like common sense to me) and under cool, dry conditions in its package, our NY Maple Cheddar Cheese would have lasted until early March, 2011 (about nine months). Regardless of what the packaging does or does not say, this is a dairy product and should not be kept at or above room temperature longer than it must.
Because this is a softer cheddar, it does not fracture so clean-up is usually as simple as wiping the blade of whatever one is using to cut the cheese with. If it is melted and ends up on clothing, be sure to consult your fabric's care guide. On its own, Yancey's Fancy NY Maple Cheddar Cheese should not stain any clothing or dishware.
Yancey's Fancy NY Maple Cheddar is a better ingredient than it is a cheese on its own, but when added to something where it may be melted and accent a food, it is far better. Certainly worth trying, NY Maple Cheddar might not thrill those who love their cheese sharp, but it is a great accent cheese.
For other Yancey’s Fancy cheese reviews, please check out my takes on:
Strawberry Chardonnay Cheddar
XXX Sharp Cheddar
Wasabi Horseradish Cheddar
Champagne Aged Cheddar
For other food reviews, please check out my index page!
© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.