Creole Cream Cheese used to be widely available in New Orleans, over time however it became harder to find, and never outside of Louisiana. It’s a soft cheese eaten as a breakfast treat, sprinkled with sugar, covered with cream or half & half, and usually fresh fruit. This is what The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say about the subject:
Cream Cheese is always made from clabbered milk. The ‘Cream Cheese Woman’ is still as common a sight on our New Orleans streets as the Cala Woman was in the days gone by. She carries a covered basket in which are a number of small perforated tins in which the Cheeses are. In her other hand she carries a can of fresh Cream. She sells her wares to her regular customers, for the old Creoles who do not make their own Cream Cheese are very particular as to whom they buy from, and when once a good careful, clean woman gets a ‘customer’ she keeps her during her period of business, coming every fast day and Friday with her Cheese and Cream, for this is a great fast-day breakfast and luncheon dish.
The “Cream Cheese Woman” has long ago gone the way of the “Cala Woman”, but fortunately for me, I enjoy making it myself. It’s a fairly long but very simple process; combined, about 10 minutes of actual work. Rennet is a coagulating enzyme which comes from a young animal’s stomach, but there are also vegetable varieties. It comes in liquid or tablet form, I use the liquid animal variety. Although I had a hard time finding it in my area, you may find it in tablet form in the baking aisle at your grocer. If not, do what I did and order it from Cheese Supply(dot)com. The shipping is a little steep for just a small item, so I ordered some Manchego, Cheesecloth, and a few other items to pad the bill. The recipe:
Creole Cream Cheese Recipe
2 Quarts Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
8 drops Liquid Rennet or 2 tablets
Combine the skim and buttermilk in a good sized saucepan. Over medium heat bring the mixture to 110 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Pour the heated mixture into a large, non-metal bowl. Add the rennet, stir and cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. After a few hours there should be chunks (Curds) and liquid (Whey), try to keep Miss Muffet at bay. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, then spoon the curds into the colander, try to keep them intact. Let this drain for 1 hour or until it is one solid piece. Discard the Whey, or make Ricotta, which is made from cooked Whey. I haven’t tried it yet, but next time I will. Place gently into a bowl and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve with sugar, half & half, and fresh fruit.
*New* I have another recipe for Creole Cream Cheese that says you cannot use Homogenized milk. I’ll have to locate some to see if there is any difference in the finished product. The same recipe states you can substitute reconstituted dry skim milk. Another variation in this recipe is the use of Plain Yogurt as the culture, in place of the buttermilk. I will post when I try this.
There are some companies making this product:
Chef John Folse’s Bittersweet Plantation Dairy
Mauthe’s Creole Cream Cheese, although their website isn’t working.
Recipes using Creole Cream Cheese: