Tête de Maure (aged Edam), the very Haitian Dutch cheese.
Haitian Dutch cheese, I think this appellation suits this aged Edam, or Tête de Maure as we call it, perfectly. It is present in every single Haitian kitchen, and finds its way in many local recipes.
I should rephrase that. It is the cheese we use in every cheesy dish. We only refer to it by the name Tête de Maure, however.
I grew up unaware of the fact that it was actually an aged Edam cheese. I had to go to college to finally find that out. I desperately craved some Tête de Maure. But no US store seemed to carry it.
An uncle, who was trying to help, shipped me a red waxed cheese ball from Florida, which simply couldn’t satisfy my craving. The minute I stuck my knife in it, I could tell it was a different cheese. It was too soft. Plus the label referred to it as Edam cheese. I had asked for Tête de Maure.
At the time, I thought my uncle had lost his mind. How could he mistake a cheese that was clearly labelled Edam for our Tête de Maure.
But a quick lecture from him and a few online searches later, I understood that he still had his head on his shoulders. I learned that our Tête de Maure is actually aged Edam cheese. The reason the one he had sent me wasn’t to my taste was because it was a mild and soft Edam.’
In contrast, as highlighted in this article, our Tête de Maure or aged Edam is dry, salty and bold in flavors that enhance our local dishes.
Try it for yourself. I have compiled a list of its most common uses in our Haitian cuisine, and some of my own concoctions below.
In Haiti, Tête de Maure (aged Edam) is our go-to cheese for:
We add it to our béchamel and sprinkle it atop every single gratin, including but not limited to, our Haitian baked mac and cheese and any oven-baked vegetable casserole.
You mashed potatoes are simply not up to the game if you don’t mix some Tête de Maure cheese in there. The same goes for any puree by the way. I myself used it for my cod stuffed sweet potatoes.
Tarte à l’oignon:
Our traditional onion pie, is another local stapled that simply isn’t ready until you add some grated Tête de Maure to the filling.
Perhaps, one of the most common uses for this cheese after the gratin, the Tête de Maure cheese dip is simply marvelous. We use it to make sandwiches; serve it alongside crackers or bread in our appetizer plates; and of course as a filling for our which we serve with crackers, in sandwiches or as a filling for our cheese puffs.
While other countries use endless cheese varieties, in Haiti, our cheese sticks absolutely have to be made using Tête de Maure cheese.
Other dishes I add Tête de Maure to:
The above list is probably one of the most common uses for this cheese in traditional Haitian kitchens. There are certainly other dishes that could be included on that list. I myself include it in my recipes. I add it in some of the dishes highlighted on the blog:
Savory pumpkin pie:
Remember the very cheesy savory pumpkin pie I shared back in October? It is packed with bold Tête de Maure flavors.
Stuffed yuca croquettes:
Have you read my yuca challenge article yet? You will find the recipe for these stuffed yuca croquettes there.