Stracchino, or Crescenza-Stracchino, is an Italian cheese from the regions of Romagna and Lombardy. Brie is a French cheese named for the region of France where it originated. Both are soft cheeses, but there can be striking differences in their flavor characteristics. With careful selection, Brie can be substituted for Stracchino in many recipes.
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Stracchino Cheese Characteristics
Stracchino cheese is made from whole cow's milk. Traditionally, it was made from the milk of cows whose physical exertion during their seasonal migration through the mountains produced milk with increased butterfat content. Stracchino was also made in the cold autumn and winter months from raw milk, ripened overnight and usually eaten fresh or aged for less than a week. Its texture is creamy and soft, with an almost liquid consistency. It has a hybrid flavor of mild, young Brie mixed with the more acidic overtones of buttermilk.
Brie Cheese Characteristics
Brie cheese is made from whole or part skim milk and is not typically eaten fresh. Brie is a soft, creamy cheese, though firmer than Stracchino. Young Brie has a mild flavor, while the flavor of aged Brie can be quite pungent. Authentic French Brie is typically aged for at least four weeks before being cut, resulting in a cheese with a mature, more complex, earthy flavor.
Stracchino is best served at room temperature or cooked in a recipe. It spreads nicely on crackers, crostini or fresh bread with fruit. It also works well on pizza, as a filling for focaccia, melted on grilled sandwiches and in cream sauce over pasta. For something different, use Stracchino in common recipes like macaroni and cheese, quiche and omelets, either by itself or mixed with other cheeses. The flavor is mild and enhances many tried and true cheese-based dishes.
Stracchino and Brie are excellent melting cheeses and can be used in a variety of cooked dishes. Both cheeses can also be eaten at room temperature on crackers or bread with fruit, and paired with an appropriate wine. With the textural characteristics that they have in common, Brie can be a good substitute for Stracchino in many recipes. For a comparable flavor substitute, look for a young, mild-flavored Brie.