Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Experiments with Cream Cheese

Most mornings for breakfast I have a bagel with cream cheese. For some time I have been kinda sad because I can't find cream cheese without any fillers. Even the organic variety has locust bean gum, which doesn't sound tasty at all. Well I have been listening to Animal Vegetable Miracle and I got to the section where they talk about making homemade cheese. One of the things they mention is how soft cheeses are incredibly easy to make. I was curious enough to do a search and see just how difficult it really was. Turns out it is incredibly simple!

I found a recipe on Mother Earth News, where you simply use a strainer, a towel, a plastic container, and plain yogurt to make cream cheese. Above is my cream cheese making device. I just used a clean hand towel, poured in my yogurt and let it sit over night. The results are below.

My first attempt was with yogurt from our CSA box. The yogurt to start out with was a bit runnier than I'm used to so it was no surprise the cream cheese came out softer than I was expecting. It was also fairly bland in flavor.

Not daunted I tried again with Nancy's Plain Lowfat Yogurt (I plan on trying whole fat yogurt next time). It turned out almost exactly like regular cream cheese! It was more sour than regular cream cheese, so I am going to have to experiment with sweetening it a bit. Maybe with maple syrup or honey for regular bagel use. As a side note, I got a huge tub of yogurt to work with. I measured out my yogurt when I made it. About 3 cups of yogurt makes 2 cups of cream cheese.

I did attempt to make my own yogurt, but it was a bit of a failure. Note: Do not use cast iron to make yogurt, it will turn out awful! I am going to try again and I'll keep you posted.

However, a big success came from making the cream cheese! I made a cheese cake for Mother's Day! It turned out to be the best cheese cake ever. Both my mother and my husband were skeptical, since neither one are fans of cheese cake, but both said it was delicious and had 2nd pieces. As you can imagine it has disappeared, so I don't have a photo. The recipe I used was one from Philadelphia and can be found here. I didn't put the strawberry preserves on top, but will probably make a fresh strawberry sauce for it the next time I make it. It was delicious without it. Also, since I can't eat graham crackers I substituted ginger snaps instead, which turned out perfect!

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