What Is Brunost?

H. Bliss

Brunost is the Swedish and Norwegian name for a soft Scandinavian cheese made from heated milk, cream, and whey. Since the milk sugar caramelizes as the mixture cooks down, brunost is has a sweet flavor. When packed in squares, it is slightly more firm than cream cheese. Its flavor is frequently compared to dulce de leche, a sweet treat popular in Latin American countries. It is commonly eaten in sandwiches.

Milk, one of the ingredients in brunost.
Milk, one of the ingredients in brunost.

This caramel-flavored cheese is popular in a number of countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. Though generally the same in different areas, this cheese has a number of names that vary from place to place, including myseost in Denmark, gjetost in Norway, and mesost in Sweden. Most brunost is manufactured in Norway and Sweden and exported to other countries.

Brunost is popular in Norway.
Brunost is popular in Norway.

Its texture is different from other cheeses, as it tends to be stickier with the consistency of fudge. It is usually served in thin slices, but can also be squeezed from a tube. A common way to serve brunost is on a simple, open-faced sandwich consisting of thin slices of this sweet cheese on a single piece of sandwich bread. Another sweet cheese called prim carries a similar flavor and is used in similar applications, but it is softer and easier to spread.

Historically, brunost was made from goat's milk only, but recipes have grown over time to include a mixture of cow's milk and goat's milk, or simply cow's milk alone. Though the goat's milk used in original brunost is used for many similar purposes as cow's milk, like making cheese, butter, and yogurt, goat's milk does have a few differences. One major difference is that goat's milk does not have to be homogenized. The fat in the goat's milk remains suspended evenly throughout the milk, unlike cow's milk, in which the cream separates from the rest of the milk.

Though the Latin American sweet called dulce de leche has a similar, caramel flavor to brunost, its ingredients and texture are different. Dulce de leche is made from milk and sugar that have been simmered until they brown. It lacks the whey and fatty cream that is present in brunost, and the resulting texture is closer to pudding than cheese. Since it is more of a pudding than a viable spread, dulce de leche is usually eaten with a spoon or drizzled on other sweets like cakes, cookies, and muffins.

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