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Fast Track to Soft Cheese

By Cook's Illustrated Published July 2011

Turning on the microwave might not be such a good idea when it comes to warming up soft cheeses.

Soft, creamy cheeses like Brie and Camembert firm up in the refrigerator and should be brought to room temperature before serving, but that can take as long as two hours. Looking for a faster route, we placed a wedge of chilled Brie in an airless zipper-lock bag in 4 quarts of 80-degree water and microwaved another wedge on the low-temperature “defrost” function. Microwaving was a bad idea: The tip of the cheese melted after just 25 seconds. But submerging the wedge in a water bath worked well, gently warming the cheese to 72 degrees in less than an hour. 

OVERLY OOZY Even on defrost, a microwave heats too rapidly to properly soften cheese
EVENLY CREAMY A warm water bath gently and effectively softens cheese.