Derived from the old southern French word for 'small goat', the name 'Cabécou' has become synonymous (at least in cheese terms) with Cabécou de Rocamadour - a very small disc of cheese traditionally made from raw goat's milk but now also availabel in a pasteurized version.
Each year some 500 tons are produced in the triangle between Rocamadour, Gramat and Carlucet. Cabécou must always be made with raw milk, using small amounts of rennet. Cheeses must also be allowed to coagulate slowly for at least 20 hours (compared with the usual 30-60 minutes for many natural rind cheeses).
Rocamadour's delicate flavor comes from the richness of the goat's milk, a result of the goats having access to the pastures in the Rocamadour area where hawthorn, juniper and mulberry trees proliferate. These cheeses are at their best in the spring made with the new season's milk.
Due to their small size, Cabécou de Rocamadour mature rapidly. They can be happily eaten at about 2 weeks of age, when the rind is thin and the interior paste is tender, supple and yielding with flavors of milk and hazelnuts. At four weeks or more, the cheeses become firm and the pale rind develops spots of blue mold. Flavors become stronger and more assertively goaty with notes of caramel.
The cheeses develop a stronger, nuttier flavour whilst becoming drier.