We bakers love our Cream Cheese as can spin around even the simplest recipes and make them Gourmet! If not for cream cheese, our favorite delicacies like cheesecake and red velvet cake (with cream cheese frosting), would never see the light of the day. Hence, we thought of talking about this magical ingredient today.
What Is Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a fresh, soft, smooth tasting cheese made either with cream or a mixture of milk and cream. It has a mild, sweet taste with a pleasant slight tang. It is smooth, spreadable (at room temperature), and can be used in sweet as well as savory dishes.
Cream cheese was invented in 1872 by American dairyman William Lawrence of Chester, New York, who accidentally stumbled on a method of producing cream cheese while trying to reproduce a French cheese called Neufchâtel. It became popular soon after and was produced mostly in Philadelphia, US, but is now consumed extensively worldwide.
How Is Cream Cheese Made
A mixture of cream & milk (usually 1:2 ratio) is heated and then mixed with an acidic substance like lemon juice or vinegar.
The mixture needs to be stirred constantly until it curdles and then separates into cheese curds and whey.
Drain off the whey and transfer the curds to a food processor and churn until the curd is totally smooth and creamy.
Can Cream Cheese Be Made At Home
Yes! It is actually quite simple.
The only ingredients required are cream, milk, an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), and salt. Follow the above procedure and make fresh cream cheese for your dishes every time you want to use it.
Is It Easy To Store
Cream cheese is formed by using lactic acid and so it is best to consume it fresh. It has a short shelf life once you open the box, but can be refrigerated to prevent premature spoilage. However, even after refrigeration, it is advisable to use it at the earliest.
In the case of homemade cream cheese, it is best to use it within one week without refrigeration and up to two weeks when refrigerated.
Uses of Cream Cheese
Cream cheese has mild, sweet, and tangy flavors, which makes it perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. It is a base for all Cheesecakes, Cream Cheese Frostings, and can also be used with other classic bakes like Brownies to give them a gourmet twist.
Apart from that, it pairs well with various herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, making it ideal for consumption as dips and spreads.
Is Cream Cheese Available In India
Yes! Cream cheese is definitely available in India in packaged forms. The easiest way to find cream cheese in your city is to check gourmet food stores, the ones that keep imported food items.
You can also find cream cheese in large supermarkets. Some of the name brands available in India are Britannia, D’lecta, Mooz etc.
A 150-200 g jar of cream cheese will cost you around Rs. 180-200 depending on the brand. Imported brands will cost higher.
Is Cream Cheese is same as Cheese Spread
Cheese spread is a saltier, more spreadable version of cream cheese that is more readily available in the market. It is easy to confuse between the two.
For baking purposes (making cheesecake), cheese spread should not be used as it contains a lot of salt and it is not meant for cooking, just directly consuming.
Are Paneer & Cream Cheese the same?
No, paneer and cream cheese are different. Though they are both made in a similar manner by separating cheese curds from the whey, they both have different starting points.
While Paneer is made just with milk, Cream Cheese is made with a 1:2 ratio of Milk:Cream.
Therefore, cream cheese has a higher fat percentage due to the fact that we have used cream in the starting mixture.
Also, while making cream cheese, more acidic component is used so as to give a slight tang to the final product. This is not the case with Paneer which has a more neutral taste to the palette.
Due to these two main differences, Paneer cannot be used in place of cream cheese for baking purposes.