Homemade cream cheese takes so few ingredients and so little effort it almost seems a shame not to make it from scratch. And when it’s your turn to host brunch, you can wow your guests with this simple – yet impressive – DIY spread. Earn extra points when you whip in a little additional flavor like homemade sweet strawberry-rhubarb syrup or savory chives and freshly ground black pepper.
Makes about 6 ounces
- Heavy sauce pan
- Cheese cloth
- Large bowl
- Electric mixer
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1. In a heavy sauce pan, combine the milk, cream, and salt and bring to a slow boil.
2. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the lemon juice and continue to stir over the heat until the curds just begin to form. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. While the mixture is cooling, line a colander with several layers of cheese cloth and place into a large bowl.
4. Add the buttermilk to the separated curds, gently stirring to combine. Let the mixture sit for another 5 minutes.
5. Carefully pour the mixture into the cheese cloth lined colander, catching the curds and draining off the whey. Gather the corners of the cheese cloth to create a little bundle and secure with a piece of twine or a rubber band.
6. Drain additional whey by hanging the cheese cloth bundle over a container for an additional 8-10 hours at room temperature*. We found the easiest way to do this is to stick a spoon through the rubber band and suspend the cheese cloth bundle inside a large pitcher. This will catch the whey and keep the cheese from drying out too much.
7. After draining, carefully peel back the layers of cheese cloth and transfer the cheese into a bowl. With the cheese still at room temperature, it can be whipped with a whisk or electric stand mixer into a fluffy, airy spread, additional flavors can be added (see below), or it can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
* NOTE: The cheese can drain for longer or shorter than the suggested 8-10 hours, the consistency will just be firmer or softer. Check the cheese as it drains for your desired cream cheese consistency, but the firmer it is, the harder it will be to whip and add flavors.
STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE
- 1/4 cup fresh rhubarb, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, roughly diced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 recipe homemade cream cheese
1. Combine the fruit, sugar, and water in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down and the liquid is reduced by more than half. The resulting mixture should be syrupy and stick to the back of a spoon without dripping. Let the fruit mixture cool completely before adding it to the cream cheese.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, add the cream cheese and strawberry-rhubarb syrup, whisking to combine. Transfer to a small lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
CHIVE AND BLACK PEPPER WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE
- 1 recipe homemade cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium-sized bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the cream cheese and whip until light and fluffy. Add the chives and pepper and whisk again to combine. Transfer to a small lidded container and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.