This is my 3rd, cheese-related post of the series. Unlike its predecessors, unlike almost all of my prior blog entries, there is no side story, no anecdote, to tell. Yes, Mom sometimes served us cream cheese but don’t all Moms do the same? Although it’s true I’ve made this cream cheese for Zia, it’s hard to build a story around her saying, “I like it.” Looking beyond the 2 Bartolini Girls, there just aren’t any cream cheese yarns to report coming from the old two-flat. Moving more to the Present, in all of my sleepless nights, cream cheese never played even the smallest of bit parts. To be honest, I don’t even recall a single instance where I snacked on cream cheese in the wee hours of the morning. Most shockingly — and, for once, disappointingly — Max has never done anything to disrupt or despoil my cream cheese operation nor its end-product. And Lucy doesn’t speak cheese, so, she is of no help whatsoever. As a result, I’ve got nothing. Nada. Butkis. So, then, how did I come to make cream cheese? One day about 2 year ago, while looking at the Fankenhauser Cheese Page, I clicked on the words Cream Cheese. Within days, the Bartolini kitchens were making cream cheese. Hardly the quaint tale of a bygone time that you’ve come to expect, now is it?
So, with no story to tell, I’ll get right to the business at hand. The ingredient list mentions that salt is optional but strongly recommended. I would definitely add salt should you decide to make this cheese. Not only will it prolong the cheese’s shelf-life, but it tastes so much better. Believe me, a salt-free cream cheese is one, extremely bland cheese. Beyond the salt issue, there’s but one thing more worthy of mentioning. While I was away, guest hosting for Jed at sports-glutton.com, I happened upon his post dedicated to the fine art of making NYC-style bagels. Thanks to Jed and that post, the Bartolini kitchens actually baked all the bagels pictured within this post.
By the way, home-made mascarpone is next on the cheesy schedule and, like today, I’ve got nothing.
Before attempting to make this cheese or any within my recipe collection, please refer to my Cheesy Stuff page. Chock full of cheesy details, it provides information about ingredients, cleaning/sterilizing equipment, spices & seasonings, a few tips, and sources for supplies and information.
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Home-Made Cream Cheese Recipe
yield: 2 pounds
- 1 quart whole milk – never ultra-pasteurized
- 1 quart whipping cream – never ultra-pasteurized
- 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk – no substitutes
- 1/2 tablet Rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
- 1 to 2 tsp table salt, more or less to taste – optional but strongly recommended
- Place the milk and cream into a clean, sterile pot with a lid and heat over low to med-low heat until it reaches 70˚ . Stir frequently.
- Add buttermilk, mix thoroughly, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Add rennet, stir, set aside for at least 8 hours, or overnight, at a room temperature from 70 to 75˚.
- If properly prepared, the mixture should have gelled after waiting the specified time. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the gelled mixture. Briefly use a whisk to gently stir the mixture, creating pea-sized curds.
- Cover a large strainer with a clean, sterile handkerchief.
- Gently pour the curds into the handkerchief and let drain for 30 minutes.
- Grab the handkerchief’s 4 corners, tie them, and use them to hang like a sack over the sink or a large pot. If your kitchen is exceptionally warm, place everything into the fridge to drain.
- Drain until the cream cheese is the consistency you prefer. To hurry the process, carefully twist the “sack” to force the whey out of the cheese.
- Place cheese into container(s) and refrigerate. The cream cheese will remain fresh for about 1 week, less if unsalted.
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Because of its relatively short shelf-life, I rarely mix other ingredients into my cream cheese unless it will be used up entirely within a day. To do otherwise, I feel, opens the door to contaminating the cheese because of a slightly over-ripe berry or piece of fruit.
I’ve tried cooking with this cream cheese and it “broke,” liquified, both times. I have used it successfully, however, in a variety of refrigerated cheesecakes and spreads.
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Adapted from Emeril’s Homemade Creole Cream Cheese
the Fankhauser Making Cream Cheese webpage.
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