Cream cheese, more than a spreadable cheese
If we opened your fridge we would probably find at least one tub of cream cheese. You may have different types of cream cheese and you might enjoy it as a quick snack spread on toast or as a dip with raw vegetables. Maybe you are passionate about pastry and you love using it in cakes and desserts. But regardless of how you use it, have you ever wondered how cream cheese is made? If you want to know more, in this article you will find the answers you are looking for, but we will also talk about all the possibilities cream cheese offers in the kitchen.
Let’s start from the beginning, what is cream cheese and how is it made?
The answer is in its name, it is a rindless creamy and spreadable cheese. It is a fresh white cheese, and with a mild and slightly acidic taste. It has to be stored in a refrigerator and it normally comes in a tub.
We should not confuse it with other creamy cheeses available, such as mascarpone, a slightly sweet cheese made with milk and cream that has a higher fat content than cream cheese. It is also not the same as ricotta or cottage cheese, which is made with whey and cow’s milk and lacks the acidic touch of cream cheese. Finally, in the supermarket we can also find quark or fromage blanc, which has a creamy texture but is less consistent than cream cheese. It also has a different flavour, as it has that lactic taste of fresh cheese.
Are all cream cheeses the same? No, they are not, they can be made with different ingredients or follow different processes. Most brands use pasteurized cow’s milk, preservatives and stabilizers, but different ingredients, and their quality, will produce cream cheeses with different organoleptic and functional profiles.
For example, at Quescrem, in addition to the finest milk and cream, we use buttermilk to make cream cheese. Buttermilk is an ingredient with very good nutritional, organoleptic and functional properties, so by adding this ingredient of high biological value, we obtain a product with excellent flavour and texture as well as a very stable formula.
How is traditional cream cheese made?
At Quescrem, cream cheese is made with locally sourced ingredients, which guarantees the are fresh and of the highest quality, but also supports our region. We also take care of every detail until the final product is ready for distribution. Traditional cream cheese is made following a simple process that has five main steps:
When the milk, cream and buttermilk arrive at our facilities, we carry out an exhaustive quality control before unloading it in our warehouses.
Once the main ingredients are received and stored in the tanks, they are mixed in different proportions to achieve the desired texture.
After the mix has been strained we apply a heat treatment to ensure food safety without changing its organoleptic and nutritional properties.
Once pasteurized, we add lactic ferments to transform lactose into lactic acid, which gives it that characteristic acid touch of cream cheese. In addition, this process reduces the cheese’s pH, making it more stable.
After fermentation we strain the curds again to reduce the humidity even more and make it more consistent, so it has the nutrients we seek. Our natural cream cheese is now ready to pack.
Approximately 24 hours after the arrival of the ingredients and the start of the process, our cream cheese is ready to send to our customers after, of course, making sure that it meets all the quality requirements, in terms of food safety, organoleptic qualities and functional properties.
One ingredient, many uses
In addition to being spread on toast, cream cheese is a very versatile culinary ingredient and practically every recipe can be adapted to include it. It goes well in both savoury and sweet dishes. Keep on reading and you’ll see that there is life beyond the cream cheese sandwich.
Cream cheese in sweet and savoury pastries
– Frosting and filling
. Undoubtedly, one of its most common uses. Toppings, fillings and even cake and cupcake decoration made with cream cheese will be smooth, silky and very stable. It is also very easy to work with and adds a slight acid touch that is delicious.
A basic recipe as simple as mixing cream cheese with sugar and eggs has become one of the most popular cakes in the world. There are countless varieties, baked and no-bake, with sponge cake, as a mousse, etc. Some are known all over the world, like the New York Cheesecake. Others have been imitated over and over again, like the Japanese cheesecake. The best thing? You don’t have to be an expert cook to make a delicious cheesecake.
– Ice cream.
You can make creamy ice creams using cream cheese as main ingredient. Alone or combined with fruits, nuts, spices or chocolate, it will be spectacular. Its fat and protein content make it an ideal ingredient for an ice cream with a very silky texture and a delicious flavour.
– Mousses and foams
. By adding cream cheese to this type of recipe you can achieve very stable formulas without using too much gelatine or other thickeners and stabilizers. A good quality cream cheese will also contribute to a successful mousse or foam.
Using cream cheese for cooking
Using cream cheese in spreads or pâtés gives you a whole range of possibilities to play with flavours and textures. Cream cheese will not only help bind the ingredients, it will add a distinctive lactic twist. Open the door to the imagination and create many different homemade pâtés and snacks that will surprise your guests.
– Doughs and batters.
Cream cheese is more than a simple decorative element for cakes and tarts, it is also an excellent ingredient to add to doughs for an extra flavourful touch. Especially in savoury recipes, such as focaccia or Quiche Lorraine. In egg batters such as frittata or the classic Spanish omelette it will also add a different twist, resulting in a moister and richer dish.
– Dough fillings.
Croissants and Danish fillings with cream cheese will be rich and flavourful.
When melted, cream cheese becomes a silky and very malleable ingredient, ready to be combined with other ingredients such as vegetables, citrus, spices and everything that your culinary imagination decides. It is a perfect lighter substitute for cream or butter in all types of pasta sauces, or with vegetables, fish and meat.
This typical Swiss dish can have many versions, and one of the fastest and easiest is made with cream cheese.
Add some cream cheese to your fruit and vegetable smoothie, you will not only make it creamier but you will also make it more nutritious.
After reading about the different ways in which you can use cream cheese as an ingredient, we are sure that you will start experimenting and discover many more.
A cream cheese for every palate and diet
Nowadays we can find many varieties of cream cheese on the market suited for many uses, both for consumers who buy products in supermarkets, for professional chefs and for the food industry.
Cream cheese is a key ingredient of the food industry that can be adapted, with specific characteristics and flavours, to different production processes. In short, the food industry needs a cream cheese that adds value to its products to meet the demands of the final consumer.
Aware of this, we currently offer a wide range of functional and high quality cream cheeses, starting with our Regular Cream Cheese. This initial formula was soon adapted to offer a Light Cream Cheese, with a lower percentage of fat and 40% less calories than a normal cream cheese, and a lactose-free version for those who wish to look after their digestion. We have also taken into consideration the growing concern about where ingredients come from and we have created our Organic cream cheese made with fresh organic milk from Galicia, free from GMOs and artificial additives.
On the other hand, the hospitality, catering and pastry professional needs unique products better suited for culinary uses. In response to this need, we have designed high-performance cream cheeses to be used with different cooking techniques (which can even be fried or frozen) that can reduce waste in the professional kitchen. In addition to our regular cream cheese, we have an American-style Original Recipe cream cheese, with a higher concentration and firmer texture. Quescrem Plus is a cream cheese designed for cooking with a high resistance to extreme cold/hot temperatures that is easy to handle and reduces waste. Our Culinary Yoghurt has a thick and stable texture, similar to cream cheese, and does not lose its yoghurt flavour after combined with other ingredients. We have also developed a cream cheese with Manchego Cheese (50% Manchego P.D.O. cheese) and a Goat Cheese Log cream cheese, which combine the intense flavour of the traditional cheeses with all the benefits of cream cheese.
To also meet the demands of the end consumer, we have worked to expand our family of cream cheeses available for direct purchase. This is the case of our range of flavoured cream cheeses, in which we can find the already mentioned cream cheese with Manchego Cheese or with Blue Cheese, and cream cheeses with other ingredients such as cream cheese with Garlic and Herbs or Pink Pepper. We also offer a range of cream cheeses made entirely with Goat Milk with all the flavour and nutritional benefits of goat cheese in an easy-to-use tub.
And last, some newcomers to the large family of Quescrem cream cheeses. Within the Smart Food range we have two fresh cheeses: Fresh cheese for Grilling and +PRO (fat and lactose-free), and two cream cheeses: +PRO Light, with a higher percentage of protein and less fat than traditional cream cheese – ideal for those who have an active life and want to increase their protein intake without increasing their fat intake –, and Children’s Regular Cheese Cream designed for the smallest members of the family, a cream cheese enriched with iron and calcium for children of growing age, and with a flavour that they love.
There are many different cream cheeses available but they are not all the same. Those with a composition based on ingredients of the highest quality, which add nutritional value to the final product, from manufacturers that pay attention to every detail of the manufacturing process, will undoubtedly stand out.