We’re no strangers to the slow food movement, we adore taking the time to make things ourselves. We’re also big fans of keeping our respective food cultures alive and kicking, and spreading the joy to anyone who can’t get out of the way fast enough. *grins*
I recently undertook the task of discovering how to make an item that is nearly unique to, but is all but lost to my hometown of New Orleans: creole cream cheese. Once made in almost every kitchen of my grandmother’s generation, it has since become a hard to find item (made and sold at only one old-school grocery store in town, and pretty much nowhere outside of New Orleans), and rarely ever made in the home any more. There’s a rant in here somewhere about how we evolved into a ‘convenience society’, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Creole cream cheese is a ‘farm cheese’, and a distant cousin to the commercial cream cheese you can find in stores today. The significant differences are that it is softer, less sweet, and has a very distinct tangy tartness. Back in the day it was frequently served with a splash of cream, a sprinkling of sugar and fresh fruit. Somewhere between the tang of the creole cream cheese and the sweetness of the cream and sugar lie a perfect balance of flavors. It can also be fashioned into a dynamite cheesecake, and an even better ice cream. It has also been known to be enjoyed spread on buttermilk biscuits in the English cream tea style of scones and clotted cream.
At its heart, creole cream cheese is milk that has had the curd separated from the whey and fermented briefly using the same helpful bacteria as modern cultured buttermilk — hence the tangy tartness. Once the curd has had sufficient time to separate, it is then allowed to drain to remove as much of the whey as possible.
Once that is done, you’re left with a smooth creamy mass that has the same firmness, once chilled, as commercial cream cheese at room temperature. Serve plain, with cream and sugar, or use as an ingredient in your favorite recipe.