Info (1 of 3)|
Cheese Info (1 of 3)
Information on Cheeses follo
(This is part 1 of 3)
Cheeses The most essential ingredient in any
cheesecake is -- you guessed it -- Cheese. The cheeses that are most
commonly used are cream cheese, Neufchatel, cottage cheese, and riccota,
but there are some recipes that use such cheeses as gouda and Swiss.
Cheese is made from milk, whether it be from cows, goats, or sheep.
It has even been made from buffalo and reindeer milk. The milk is
separated into curds (solids) and whey (liquids) and most of the cheeses
are made from the curds, although riccota is made from the whey. The fresh
or uncured cheeses are the ones you mostly will be using in your
cheesecakes, and these include cream cheese, neufchatel and cottage cheese.
Although these unripened cheeses all have roughly the same proportion of
cheese solids (roughly 15 to 18 percent), they differ greatly in their
butterfat content. All other things being equal, the higher the butterfat
content, the creamier the cheesecake.
CREAM CHEESE: Cream cheese, made from milk, must contain at least 33
percent butterfat and has one hundred calories per ounce. The water content
is 50 percent, the texture is smooth and oft, the flavor delicate.
Allow the cheese to come to room temperature before using it so that it
will blend easily with other ingredients.
Cream cheese is sold in three-ounce and eight-ounce packages in all
supermarkets. Packages are usually dated so be sure to check for freshness
when you purchase it. Once purchased, the cheese is usable for at least
three weeks, sometimes even longer. The most widely distributed brand is
Kraft's Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese although store brands are also
available. We've found that these store brands vary somewhat in quality;
they aren't always as smooth and rich as we'd like. You may want to do some
experimenting to see how well store brands available in your area compare
in flavor and texture with the national brand. Imitation cream cheese is
available in some places, but we don't recommend it for your cheesecakes.
NEUFCHATEL: Neufchatel is made, in the United States, very similar to
cream cheese. It is made from whole or skim milk, or a combination of milk
and cream. Its butterfat content is a little lower -- about 25 percent --
and it usually has 70 calories per ounce. The water content is 60 percent;
the texture is a little lighter than cream cheese. The flavor is milder,
but in most cases it can be substituted for cream cheese when a lower fat
content is desired.
But then again, who do you think you're kidding? No matter how you slice
it, cheesecake is fattening. If you do decide to adapt a cream-cheese
recipe for use with neufchatel, remember that the water content is a little
higher than cream cheese; you may want to increase slightly the quantity of
one of the moisture-holding ingredients (such as flour, cornstarch,
gelatin, or egg whites) called for in the recipe.
Neufchatel is sold much as is cream cheese and the usable life is about
the same. Do not confuse this with the French neufchatel, which is similar
to a camembert.
COTTAGE CHEESE: A wide variety of cottage cheeses are available on the
market ranging in butterfat content from 1/2 percent to 4 percent. The dry
curd cottage cheeses have roughly twenty calories per ounce and those with
4 percent butterfat contain about thirty calories per ounce. The curds
themselves are made from skim milk. The richer cottage cheeses, sometimes
called creamed cottage cheese are made by adding the whole milk and cream
to the curds. Unless otherwise noted, the recipes calling for the use of
Cottage cheese mean the creamed cottage cheese (at least 2 percent
butterfat) carefully drained of excess moisture.
FARMER CHEESE: This is skim-milk cottage cheese that has been pressed into
small squares or rectangles. It is usually sold in delicatessens or
specialty shops as bricks. Dry-curd cottage cheese can be substituted for
farmer cheese if necessary.
RICOTTA: In the United States, ricotta is almost always made from whole
milk or a combination of milk and whey. The fat content is from 4 to 10
percent and there are about 50 calories per ounce. The water content is
about 72 percent; the texture is slightly grainy, ranging to creamier if
made from all milk. It is sold in 15 or 32-oz containers which are usually
dated. Be sure to check for freshness, since this cheese keeps only for a
Skim-milk ricotta is also available, and this resembles the original
ricotta made in Italy. Most cheesecake recipes call for the whole milk
From Gemini's MASSIVE MealMaster collection at www.synapse.com/~gemini