After having nailed — if I do say so myself — how to make homemade goat cheese chèvre style, my confidence as an amateur cheesemaker has soared. In fact, for the past few months, every time I open the fridge, I can hear the collective gasp of all liquid dairy products. And they’re right to tremble in fear; my refrigerator has become the place where milks and creams from different animal species come to curdle and age.
Homemade cream cheese is my latest project. Boasting freshness, creaminess, and a bit of tang, freshly-made cream cheese has completely ruined me for commercial cream cheese. Admittedly, in things such as cheesecake or other baked goods, wherein cream cheese is baked along with other ingredients, the vast difference between commercial cream cheese and homemade cream cheese is not so obvious. However, when cream cheese is served as the main — or sometimes sole — ingredient (e.g. as a bagel spread or in a dip), quality counts tremendously.
I got help from Chef Grégoire Michaud‘s latest book, “Got Cheese?” His method is foolproof, easy, and produces stellar and consistent results. Chef Michaud’s bi-lingual (Chinese and English) book contains instructions on how to make simple cheeses, including cream cheese, at home as well as how to turn them into spectacular desserts.
[Added June 6th, 2011: Quite a few readers have told me about an easier way of making cream cheese which doesn't involve heating or the use of rennet. My take on this is that if you want cream cheese which looks and tastes homemade, that method might suffice. With yogurt, buttermilk, or some sort of cultured dairy product, you'll get the fermentation needed for the end product to have that familiar chees-y taste. But the texture will resemble farmer's cheese than commercial cream cheese. If that's all you're going for, there's no reason not to go the easier route. The method set forth here, on the other hand, resembles how cream cheese is made commercially; it aims to achieve not only fermentation but also coagulation. The result is homemade cream cheese that has the same taste and texture of your favorite commercial cream cheese, albeit much fresher. If that's what you're trying to achieve, Chef Michaud's method will not fail you.]
32 fluid ounces whole milk
48 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream (at least 35% fat content)
2 fluid ounces buttermilk
2-3 droplets of liquid veal rennet (explained in my post on how to make goat cheese at home post)
1 tablespoon of salt
*Replace the water in your yeast bread recipe with this fresh whey (obtained within 24 hours of cheese curdling) for extra delicious bread.