Mel i Mato is a Catalan dessert made from mató – a fresh cheese found in Catalonia made from cow or goat’s milk without any added salt. It is similar in texture to ricotta cheese although milder in taste and drizzled with honey and nuts. It is a traditional dessert that dates back to the middle ages when mató cheese was made from just goats milk because cows were too expensive, although it is still widely enjoyed throughout the region. Indeed, you will see it on the menu of many Catalan restaurants in Barcelona and it is definitely worth a try. The cheese is so smooth and creamy while the honey adds a wonderful sweetness and the nuts a brilliant crunchy texture, resulting in a light yet delicious sweet. What’s more, its relatively healthy as far as puddings go so there’s no need to feel guilty after indulging.
So if you’re hosting a dinner party or simply fancy trying out this decadent dessert, here are a couple of different recipes to choose from, depending on how well you know your way around the kitchen.
The cheat’s method
If you don’t feel like making your own cheese, the recipe is Mel i Mato is pretty foolproof. You can buy the cheese from many supermarkets, cheese shops and markets around the city, and it’s not too pricey. Just put in on a plate, add a generous drizzle of honey and sprinkling of nuts and hey presto you have yourself a dessert ready in the blink of an eye. It’s perfect for an impromptu dinner with friends or a lazy weeknight dessert for one.
If you do feel like making the recipe from scratch, it’s not too tricky and only requires a few simple ingredients:
1 litre of whole milk
1 lemon – juice only
5 tablespoons of honey (or more if you have a sweet tooth)
A handful of walnuts
In a large heavy based saucepan, bring the milk to a boil and then take it off the heat
Next, add the lemon juice to the hot milk and stir well until it curdles
Line a fine mesh colander with a cheesecloth and press the mixture through until on the curd remains
Place the colander over a bowl to let the excess water drain and put it in the freezer for an hour or two
When you’re ready to serve, add the honey and the nuts and enjoy!
Mel i Mato with a twist
If you want to add a zesty twist to this classic dessert, you can add the zest of one orange to the milky mixture. If you fancy something more fragrant, try adding a couple of cardamom pods, some cloves or star anise.
As far as extra toppings go, fresh figs and flaked almonds complement the delicate cheese perfectly. Alternatively, you could opt for juicy strawberries and crumbled amaretti biscuits or even some dried fruits for a hint of extra sweetness.