How to Make a (tres chic) Fromage Blanc

 This lovely concoction is a  basic fresh white cheese , otherwise known as Fromage Blanc, made into a dessert cheese by adding a pear infused balsamic vinegar reduction and pairing it with fruit, chocolate and cajun spiced pecans. The fromage blanc is from an old New Orleans recipe a friend living on Lake Pontchartrain in Mandeville told me about several years ago.
It is relatively simple to make from milk, no special equipment or ingredients are needed, yet it will definitely impress whomever you serve it to. Fromage Blanc can be made in a variety of textures. It can be made with low fat milk if you so desire, and it can be a dessert cheese like that above or a comfort food like the creamy herb cheese I made here.

The preparation is so easy, here is how:
You will need-
1 qt.milk, raw or store bought but make sure it is not ultra pasteurized (regular pasteurization is fine)
1 cup buttermilk
11/2 tbls. strained juice from fresh lemons or limes
1/2 tsp salt, I prefer pink salt
a stainless steel or enamel pot to hold 1.5 qt or more
a plastic or enamel colander
cheese cloth or lint free flour sack cloth
large glass bowl
slotted spoon, plastic or wooden
cheese paper or waxed paper

Add milk to your pot, double the recipe if you want to do both cheeses pictured here.
Slowly warm the milk, don't let it burn. Just before it reaches a boil, add the buttermilk and strained lemon or lime juice, give one or two light stirs to blend. Reduce heat to warm for about five minutes. Turn heat off and leave it alone for another 10 minutes. You will see the curds begin to form and the watery whey separate. Add salt. If you are doing an herb cheese add the herbs at this point.

Place the colander in the large glass bowl. Lay the cheese cloth double thickness, or single thickness flour sack cloth, in the colander.With your slotted spoon, gently lift the curds out of  the pot. If the pot is small enough to handle you can just pour the contents right into the colander. The whey will drain through the cloth, leaving the curd behind. Discard the whey. Gently squeeze the curd, not too hard or it will be forced through the cloth as well. I then hang the cloth over the bowl for about an hour, occasionally walking past and giving the curds a gentle squeeze. 

After it has drained, I put the cheese in a small glass container to mold it and cover the top with formaticum. a special cheese paper made in France that allows the cheese to breathe. You can use waxed paper but your cheese might be a bit more damp.
If you use the waxed paper I suggest shaping the cheese with your hands and placing it in a large glass or crockery bowl so it has some air space.                  Cheese, even soft cheese, must breathe.
After the cheese has set up, I remove it from the 'mold' and it is ready to eat.

Now here are a few extra tips. To the herb cheese I added 1 cup of heavy cream. This makes it extra sweet and spreadable.

 If you want cream cheese just add cream to replace milk. You can freeze cheese much as you freeze butter but it will be more crumbly in texture after it has thawed. Still perfect for topping a salad . Fresh fromage blanc does not contain the many preservatives used in store bought. It will keep in the fridge five to seven days. This cheese does not melt. But you can make grilled cheese sandwiches with it as it tastes delightful warm.
For the dessert cheese,using a balsamic reduction adds a special dimension to the flavor.

Any balsamic will do but I particularly like the pear one. Just bring the balsamic to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. For serving in the afternoon this is good with a rose'. For serving at night, add some brown sugar to the balsamic reduction until it is very rich and thick. Serve with a vintage port.


Jennifer Baumer said...

Your pictures always make me so hungry for food and for beauty but mostly, they inspire me! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I look forward to trying it!

Jennifer Baumer said...

Your pictures always make me hungry: for food and for beauty! They inspire me to try new things! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to trying this.

Debie Pettry said...

Thank you Jennifer, it warms my heart to know that!

Dee Germany said...

These pictures are beautiful enough to just be pictures to view. However, this sounds wonderful & easy enough for me to give it a try! Thanks so much for sharing..... Dee

Debie Pettry said...

Thank you so much Dee. It is simple and satisfying to make your own. You will be glad you did when you taste it!

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