Because my sister hates cooking (her words) it is not often that she becomes a source of new recipes for me. While my love of food is what drives me to cook, it does not do the same for her. This is not helped by the fact that her children are extremely picky eaters. What my 4-year-old niece is willing to eat is limited to: plain boiled rice, meat (preferably ham) and berries (preferably those she can pick herself). My 6-year-old nephew is a bit more adventurous and he is also willing to eat bread, with cream cheese. Which is why my sister learned to make homemade cream cheese and then passed the recipe to me.
Since it comes from my cooking-hating sister, it is bound to be simple. It is in fact so simple it almost feels like cheating. You just stir together yogurt and cream and let strain overnight. No need to heat it to an exact temperature or add rennet. I like to add chopped fresh herbs but this is of course not necessary.
I have been making this recipe on a weekly basis and it is eagerly consumed by the whole family. Last week we bought Philadelphia cream cheese to compare and we all preferred the homemade version. It is not quite the same – a little creamier, less salty, smoother textured and a little tangier, better. I like that I can make it using organic ingredients (I cannot buy organic cream cheese where we live) and that it is a whole lot cheaper than the small tubs of Philadelphia.
I have not tried baking with it yet since it always gets eaten before I get around to it, but will report back when I do.
The recipe makes about 500 – 600 g (18 to 21 oz) of cream cheese. If you think that’s too much of a good thing, you can of course halve it. But since yogurt here is sold in 1 litre packages and cream in 250 ml these amounts are convenient for me.
Homemade cream cheese
1 litre (4 cups) full fat yogurt
250 ml (1 cup) cream
Pinch of salt
A generous bunch of fresh herbs (about ½ – 1 cup chopped) chives, parsley, dill, mint…
Whisk together the yogurt, cream and salt. Line a colander with cheese cloth and suspend over a deep pan. Pour the yogurt mix into the colander lined with cloth. Put in the fridge and leave for 14 – 16 hours. The longer you leave it, the denser it will be.
Stir in the chopped herbs and add more salt if you wish. It will keep in the fridge for at least 3 days.