The Good: Melts well, Nothing truly bad in it, Easy to work with, Accurate flavor
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Brutally spicy hot
The Basics: Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper cheddar is not much of a cheese flavor, but it acts as a perfect medium for one of the hottest peppers on Earth . . . which makes for an entirely unpleasant culinary experience.
It turns out that one of the consequences of moving just a bit out west is that I moved out of the primary distribution area for one of my favorite companies: Yancey's Fancy. I love Yancey's Fancy cheese, so when I was recently in New York again, I made a point to finally stop by Corfu, NY to visit the Yancey's Fancy cheese factory. Actually, I ended up going to their factory store there, which was quite exciting for me as it was filled with all sorts of Yancey's Fancy cheeses I had never seen before.
I picked up a bunch of new-to-me Yancey's Fancy cheeses and the first one I decided to try and review was the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar. The reason I chose to start with Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar was because the moment I returned home and showed off my finds to my wife, she commented "You know 'ghost pepper' is super-hot, right?" To which, I responded honestly, "Um, no. I thought it was like peppercorns." So, my return to Yancey's Fancy cheeses begins with the one I am least likely to enjoy, whatwith me not generally being a fan of very spicy hot foods.
And the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar is as hot as anyone who knows peppers would assume it is. There's no depth of flavor, nothing one might want to use this cheddar in, it is that hot and unpleasant. My review is based on eating the 1/8th of an ounce that I could actually stand to consume before I give the rest of it away.
Yancey's Fancy is a manufacturer of Artisan Cheeses in upstate New York. The intent of most Yancey's Fancy cheeses is that they will be cheeses that hold their own as snacks that may be served to consumers in fancier settings. They specialize in cheddar cheeses that have different flavors infused into them: champagne, jalapeno, various nuts, etc., as well as more exotic cheeses like gouda with bacon. Yancey's Fancy cheeses come in wheels (usually ten or twenty pounds each) and most stores chop the wheels into blocks. Online, it is fairly easy to find the cheese in one pound blocks or in the 7.6 oz. prepackaged package.
The Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese is exactly as its name implies. This is a solid white cheese with actual red and black pepper bits in it. Mixed throughout the cheddar block are the actual chunks of black and red mashed up ghost pepper, though none of them are bigger than a 1/16" in diameter. Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese comes encased in a soft black wax which allows the cheese to maintain its shape and solid state. The black wax helps consumers distinguish it from other flavors of Yancey's Fancy cheese.
Ease Of Preparation
Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese is a cheese, so more often than not, it is used on its own or as an ingredient in a recipe. Preparation of the cheese is pretty simple, starting with removing the plastic wrap it is sealed in. When that is done, simply peel back the wax coating on the outer edges. This happens with remarkable ease. The Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese seems to not adhere to the wax. This makes it a very easy cheese to separate from the wax coating and it may be placed on a cutting block or plate ready to be cut!
Unlike some cheeses with other things embedded in them, Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese is very easy to work with. My cheese plane easily sliced through the block with ease; this cheese is not so hard to fracture or otherwise fall apart. It is exceptionally easy to work with on its own or as an ingredient. This is a fairly soft cheddar cheese.
When the cheese is sliced, it melts nicely. For those who would use it as an ingredient, it melts well onto or into other things.
On its own, the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese smells fairly strongly of peppers. The pepper smell is an aroma of red and black pepper smells. There is no real scent of cheddar in the bouquet of the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar.
In the mouth, the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar is creamy, lightly salty and then it is fire in the mouth. The Ghost Pepper Cheddar loses any subtlety or flavor and the mouth is simply filled hot spicy dryness.
The heat from the Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar endures in the mouth for about eight minutes after the last of the cheese is consumed.
Yancey's Fancy New York Artisan Cheeses are not intended to be all that one lives on. But for those who try, the Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese is not a healthy option. The ghost pepper does not seem to add anything of note to the cheese of nutritional value. A serving size is considered a one inch block (1 oz.). In that, there are 110 calories, 80 of which are from fat. This cheese has 25% of one's daily recommended saturated fat intake and 11% of the RDA of sodium. On the plus side, it does have 20% of the RDA of calcium and has six grams of protein.
Obviously, Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese is a dairy product, so those who are lactose intolerant will have problems with it. This cheese is made primarily of natural aged cheddar cheese, ghost pepper mash and trisodium citrate. That makes it mostly natural and it is marked Gluten Free.
As a cheese, Yancey's Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese should be kept refrigerated. So long as that happens, it ought to stay fresh for several weeks. The package I picked up from the factory store just yesterday had an expiration date of November 1, 2018.
Ghost Pepper Cheddar is a cheese, so it is not going to stain or ruin anything unless it is ground into a fabric. Baring that, cleanup of nonporous surfaces is as easy as wiping them with a damp cloth. The pepper bits in the cheese might be enough to stain lighter fabrics.
Yancey’s Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar cheese caused an issue for me in my rating system. I could barely stomach 1/8 of a serving and I am not a fan of super-spicy things. The thing is, Yancey’s Fancy Ghost Pepper Cheddar gets the ghost pepper right, but it is not much on the cheese front. The cheese flavor is weak and quickly overwhelmed and replaced by something utterly unpleasant. So, the cheese is impossible to recommend based on the fact that it tastes terrible . . . but, that's accurate for ghost peppers. Ultimately, I settled on an 7.5/10 with a strong "not recommend." While some might argue that it deserves to be rated higher based on how well it captures the ghost pepper flavor, I kept coming back to the idea that it wasn't much of a cheese; there's no real delightful cheese flavor to it in advance of its horribly spice. Regardless of any subtleties of the reviewer in me, the cheese connoisseur knows that I will never, ever, again try even a bite of this cheese. This is a wretched example of what Yancey's Fancy can create, like a twisted mad scientist took over the factory and wanted to prove they could makes something obscenely hot and they succeeded. . . . but that does not make it worth consuming.
For other Yancey's Fancy cheese reviews, please check out my takes on:
Steakhouse Onion Cheddar
Pepperoni Cheddar Cheese
Buffalo Wing Cheddar
7.5/10 (NOT RECOMMENDED!)
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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