Forget the fancy artisanal cheeses available nowadays and try these delicious recipes using old-fashioned cream cheese.
Cream cheese is everyone’s comfort food as it slips easily into a menu, be it a tasty and easy dip with crackers or crudités or a hearty main course of soufflé or mac n cheese, ending with a luscious cheese cake or brownies.
What Is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is an amalgamation of cream and milk, in a fixed proportion that is eaten fresh. It has a soft, spreadable texture, and mildly acidic flavour that is often flavoured with garlic, herbs or black pepper. Most mass-produced versions are pasteurised for storage and distribution. In certain countries like Britain, cream cheese must have a fat content of 45-65% (anything above this is considered double cream cheese)
Storage and selection
This cheese is best eaten fresh and must be consumed within three to four days of opening. Avoid freezing as it will not taste the same and tends to crystallise. Select cheese, which has a far-off expiry date, and try those with additions of chives or other herbs for a twist. The most obvious sign of spoilage is mould, however other pointers include a sour smell, grey or yellow tinges or a slimy, watery texture.
Cooking with cream cheese
This type of cheese works as a good substitute for butter in recipes that can accommodate a reduced amount of fat. When cooking, it must be softened or melted before placing it into the dish.
A quick frosting with cream cheese and sugar works well on a carrot cake, and in some omelettes, frittatas and fondues - the options are limitless.
One of the best pastry chefs in the world, Albert Adrià who made his name alongside brother Ferran at the Michelin three-star El Bulli, has created a signature cheesecake. Constructed to look like a mini cheese it’s incredibly firm, even to the touch. Its inside is an airy melt in your mouth sensation with light cream that has a strong mature cheese flavour, offset with sweetness. This is largely because of the play between the cheeses used and other quality ingredients.
MAKING CREAM CHEESE AT HOME
Cream cheese can be made at home though most of us reach for a store-bought version as it is a lengthy process. Here is a simple recipe in case you wish to make your own.
- 2 cups cream
- 2 cups whole milk not UHT
- 1 package of cream cheese starter culture or a teaspoon lemon juice
- Fine cheesecloth
- Sea salt to taste (optional)
- Make sure you are using a glass container to hold your cream/milk. Gently stir in the starter culture
- Loosely cover and set it on your counter-top to culture for eight to 12 hours.
- You’ll know it’s done when it has set and resembles yogurt.
- Dump the thickened cream into the cheesecloth and allow the whey to drip out for at least 12 hours (the longer it drips, the firmer your finished cheese will be).
- Once it has reached the desired consistency, scrape it out of the cheesecloth and lightly salt it to taste.
- The salt is optional, but it will help it keep slightly longer. Store in an airtight container in your fridge- it will get firmer as it chills.
- Frozen orange shells
- Orange sherbet
- Orange soup
- Creme Chibouste disc
- Grapefruit granite
- Confit orange peel
- 10 mint leaves
- 700 g grapefruit juice
- 175 g sugar
- 175 g campari
- 350 g prosecco
- 190 g sugar
- 1 orange peel, grated
- 1 g salt
- 500 ml orange juice
- 15 g approximately 2 to 3 pound oranges
- 15 g lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 12 g sugar syrup
- 3g vanilla extract
- 375 g whole milk, very cold
- 25 g milk
- 5 g vanilla bean pulp
- 35 g gelatine
- 50 g Grand Marnier
- 2 oranges
- 4 egg yolks
- 50 g sugar
- 25 g flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 egg whites
- 125 g sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 oranges, diced
- 1 g cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 15g sugar
- For grapefruit granite, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Cool down and mix together with the grapefruit juice. Freeze in a pan, stirring every 15 minutes with a fork to break up large pieces. Once completely frozen, transfer to a container to the freezer.
- For the orange sherbet, combine all of the ingredients except the milk in a food processor and process until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for approximately an hour. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until the consistency is that of soft serve ice cream. Place in freezer until firm.
- For the Crème Chibouste, bring the milk, Grand Marnier, vanilla extract and orange zest to a boil. Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and creamy and then add the flour. Temper the yolks with the milk mixture and add the gelatine. Let it cool to room temperature. Whip the egg whites to medium peaks with the sugar and then add the salt. Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside.Fold the egg whites into the base in two parts. Then fold the heavy cream in two parts as well. Pour onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, punch out into discs.
- For orange soup, extract juice from the oranges after segmenting. Mix everything together
- To assemble, place the hollowed-out frozen orange, add 50 g orange sherbet, 20 g orange soup, 1 each Chibouste disc, 15 g Campari-grapefruit granite, 5 g confit orange zest, Small mint leaves, Sugar to caramelise and crushed ice
Albert Adria’s Cheesecake
- 200g double cream
- 30g pasteurised egg yolks
- 30g sugar
- 100g Coulommiers cheese, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 gelatine sheet, soaked in cold water
- 40g cream cheese
- 36g white chocolate
- 24g hazelnut paste
- Put the cheese in a heatproof bowl. In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the cream, egg yolks and sugar, while whisking constantly to create a smooth crème anglaise. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add to the crème, stir, and then pour the mixture over the cheese.
- Blend with a handheld electric whisk, and pass through a fine sieve into another bowl. Leave to rest for 24 hours.
- Whip 60g of the creamy Coulommiers mixture with the cream cheese. Using a piping bag and a plain nozzle, pipe into three 7.5cm-diameter rings. Freeze. Remove from the moulds once frozen.
- To cover the cakes, melt the white chocolate and then mix with the hazelnut paste. Place the frozen cheesecakes on a rack and carefully coat them with the hazelnut mixture, removing any excess with a hairdryer (on a cool setting). Allow the coating to crystallize then, wearing gloves, drape a piece of sterile cheesecloth over each cheesecake and allow them to set.
- Carefully peel off the cheesecloth, leaving an impression of it on the surface of the cheesecake (this creates the illusion of a cheese rind). Leave the cheesecakes to unfreeze in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
For basil water
- 500g fresh basil
- 300g mineral water
- 200g ice
For Air Waffle (makes 9)
- 210g basil water
- 135g soft flour
- 20g corn flour
- 7g caster sugar
- 0,4g soya lecitine
- 0,2g bicarbonate of soda
- 5g salt
- 1g baking powder
- 1g albumine (egg white powder)
Make basil water by blitzing water and basil for 10 seconds in mixer
- Use 210g of basil water to make a mix by adding all the ingredients together.
- Put all the mix inside the syphon and charge 5 cream whip charges shaking really well each charge.
- Heat waffle machine to 180*c and spray with non-stick grease spray. Put the mix inside.
- Sprinkle diced smoked mozzarella cheese and pine nuts and add a bit more of the waffle mix on the top and cook for 5 minutes with the timer. Serve with extra cream cheese on the side as a topping.
RECIPES COURTESY: HOTEL CAFE ROYAL, LONDON