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  • Ross Christieson

Cream Cheese: An American Classic

Updated: Mar 30

Sweet or savoury? Bagels or cheesecake? Cream cheese is a staple in many simple recipes thanks to its creamy and smooth consistency and mild, slightly tangy flavour. Cream cheese is easy to flavour and versatile for use in many different applications.


History


Some historical versions of cream cheese can be traced back to 1500s England but cream cheese as we know it today was invested in Chester, NY in the 1870s. William Lawrence, a farmer and neufchâtel maker, was approached by a local grocer looking for a richer, creamy cheese to sell at a higher price in his store. Neufchâtel is a creamy French cheese, by adding cream to the Neufchâtel after curdling the milk and pressing the liquid out. This was the origin of the first American style cream cheese which quickly grew in popularity.


By the 1920s cream cheese was widespread throughout the US. At the 1929 World’s Fair in Barcelona, a cheesecake made by a New York deli owner won a baking competition. This led to the widespread fame of New York Style baked cheesecakes that continues even today.


Cream cheese has continued to spread into other iconic American/Americanised recipes including crab rangoon and sushi rolls. Cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls, red velvet cupcakes and carrot cake is another cliché American recipe. The first recipes for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting dates back to American recipe books from the 1960s.


What to Do With Cream Cheese


Cream cheese is the perfect addition to many different dishes to add a creamy flavour. It is delicious as the central flavour in a cheese cake or hors d’oeuvres but is also a great addition to dips and dishes to complement other flavours.

Mera Cream Cheese is a great addition to both sweet and savoury applications, try it in some of our recipes below:

Sweet

Baked Cheesecake with Berry Compote


Base

225g Semi-sweet Biscuits

115g Melted Butter

100g Sugar

Pinch of salt

Filling

1130g Mera Cream Cheese

350g Sugar

3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour

5 Eggs

2 Egg Yolks

1 Lemon, zested

Compote

275g Blueberries

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

50g Sugar

120ml Water


Base

Crush the biscuits until they are very fine using a rolling pin or a blender. Add in the melted butter, sugar and salt, and stir until combined. Press firmly into a 24cm lined tin and place in the fridge while making the filling.

Filling

Preheat the oven to 280C. Whisk the cream cheese and add in the sugar and lemon zest. Continue beating, adding in one egg at a time. Add the flour and beat until everything is combined. Pour the filling into the chilled tin and place in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes lower the temperature to 100C and bake for a further 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before refrigerating overnight.


Compote

Place blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over a medium heat. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the saucepan. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for a minute before taking it off the heat to cool.


Remove the cheesecake from its tin, pour the compote over the top and enjoy!




Savoury

Cream Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres


300g Mera Cream Cheese

1 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest

½ Cup of herbs, chopped (Rosemary, dill, chives, thyme)

1 Red Pepper

2 Celery Sticks

Raisins

Crackers

Smoked Salmon

Measure out 225g of cream cheese and combine with the garlic, lemon zest, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to use.


Chop pepper and celery into bit-sized pieces and fill with cream cheese. Top with raisins and herbs. Top crackers with cream cheese, smoked salmon and a sprig of dill.


Serve with breadsticks and carrot sticks.