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Christmas Cheese Part 3: Crunch Time

To source the finest artisan cheese for Christmas, then throw it on to any old savoury biscuit would be – well, let’s not even say it… 

Instead Maws would like to offer you some of our recommendations for the perfect biscuit pairings to go with a host of cheese varieties, whether hard or soft, cow, sheep or goat. 

It’s well worth noting that these days Britain and Ireland not only makes some of the world’s finest cheese, with the number of varieties we produce now greater than our French cousins, but we also make some excellent artisan crackers, many of which have histories as long as our cheese.

The classic ‘cream cracker’ (so named because of the ‘creaming’ method used to mix the fermented yeast dough) was invented by Joseph Haughton before being produced at the small bakery belonging to William Jacob in 1885. The thin, finely crisp and long-lived water biscuits inspired by those eaten by sailors on long voyages, were developed by Jonathan Carr even earlier in 1831, while the milky Bath Oliver biscuit, once considered the height of Edwardian sophistication, was created by physician William Oliver was back in 1750. 

Any of the aforementioned savoury biscuits will still go as well with a slab of matured cheddar or an oozing slice of brie, but in recent years they’re has been something of a resurgent interest in creating just the right pairing of cracker with cheese, giving birth to a new and intriguing wave of artisanal biscuits ready to elevate this simple pleasure to delicious new heights. 

Crisp and Even 

From their bakery based near the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, Millers have been using the same traditional methods for over 70 years, not to mention the same bronze rollers that first pressed their crackers and biscuits back in the 1940s. 

Miller’s Damsel Mixed Cheese Biscuits are their luxury range of artisan biscuits baked with the best quality ingredients, made without any artificial additives or preservatives. All produced using stone-ground flour milled in England, these distinctive, hexagonal wafers in three very different savoury styles, each one the perfect complement for certain types of cheese. 

Miller’s Damsel Wheat Wafers: Thanks in a large part to their versatility, wheat crackers have been a favourite for pairing with cheese for centuries. Wheat crackers are particularly good with soft, spreadable cheeses, such as a meltingly ripe piece of creamy Sussex Truffle Brie. The mild yet rounding flavour of the grain works equally well with blue cheeses, and we can’t think of a better match than a generous wedge of Tuxeford & Tebbutt Blue Stilton or soft, mould-ripened Kingcott Blue. 

Miller’s Damsels Charcoal Wafers: The tradition of adding charcoal to foodstuffs harks back to the 19th Century, when it was frequently used as an aid to digestion. Aside from the health benefits for those who’ve festively overindulged, these dark hexagon wafers are sure to add an extra element of drama to any cheese board. Pair with any smoked cheese, such as a home-smoked Lancashire bomb from the cheese-makers at Shorrocks Cheese. 

Miller’s Damsels Buttermilk Wafers: These wafers are made purely using buttermilk and butter churned in England, and their resulting mild and creamy flavour creates the perfect foil for hard, salty ‘Parmesan-style’ cheeses, and one of our very favourites of this type is award-winning, locally produced Sussex Charmer. 

Have Your Cake… 

Serving a moist slab of fruitcake with cheese is a rich tradition (pun fully intended) in the northern counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Always happy to indulge, Maws now offer Cole’s Fruitcake, a delicious confection brimming with vine-fruits, walnuts and glace cherries, not to mention a double sousing of both brandy and sherry. Perfect served with a classic crumbly English cheese such as aged Lancashire or Wensleydale.