Cheese is already a household ingredient fancied by both young and old. And most of us know that it’s a dairy product made from molding curdled or cultured milk. But cream cheese defies this general consistency, making it one of the most preferred cheese ingredients in the kitchen.
But different reasons may cause you to do without it in your recipe. And if you’re used to it, the thought of a replacement may seem ludicrous. But here, we’ll explore substitutes you can use in place of cream cheese. And we’ll understand why makes them the perfect swap for this tasty ingredient.
What is Cream Cheese?
Cream cheese is a soft, unaged mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream. During production, lactic acid bacteria are added to the cream, causing a decrease in its pH level. This drop deprives the liquid of its fat and brings about coagulation or curdling. Stabilizers such as carrageenan and carob bean gum are often added in industrial production. Cream cheese is not naturally matured and is expected to be consumed fresh. It’s also different from other soft cheeses like Brie and Neufchatel, but more similar in texture, taste, and production process to Boursin and mascarpone.
Cream Cheese Nutrition Facts
Cream Cheese in Baking and Cooking
Cream cheese can be applied to sweet and savory cooking, and it’s often used alone or mixed with other ingredients like yogurt or pepper jelly to make spreads for bread, bagels, and crackers. It can also be a dip for chips and nachos, a base for creamy salads, and a thickener for sauces. It’s a staple in many fillings, especially for shellfish of crab rangoon, and also used alongside or instead of butter or olive oil in mashed potatoes and sushi rolls.
Cream cheese is also popular among gourmet bakers, as it has a mild and sweet taste with a bit of tanginess which stays on as an aftertaste. And this factor is because it’s a dairy-based product like cream, buttermilk, and yogurt. Cream cheese is easily an essential part of our favorite baked goods. Cheesecake, for instance, is the most popular product of cream cheese in baking, which is where they get their unique flavors.
Cream cheese is also used when making pastry dough, brownies, and puff pastry filling. When making cakes, cookies, and cream cheese frosting, it’s sometimes used to replace or alongside butter (mainly two parts cream cheese to one part butter). It also makes baked goods tastier and more prosperous, as a filling and spread, in dips, and a frost layer for cakes and other baked goods. More areas you’ll find cream cheese used in baking recipes include;
- Carrot cake
- Shortcake cookies
- Blueberry cookies
- Key lime cheesecake
- Cheesecake egg rolls
- Pecan pie
- Banana bread
- Hokey pokey slice
- Muffin pan scrolls
- Slab shortcake
- Jalapeno cornbread
- Red velvet cake
- Cannoli cake
Cream Cheese Substitutes in Baking
It isn’t an easy task to replicate the flavors and consistency of cream cheese in recipes. But you may be in a situation where you don’t have cream cheese at all or don’t have enough. You may also not want to eat it for health or dietary reasons.
Fortunately, there are other substitutes available to take its place. And while some can work well alone, others may need a few adjustments to reach the desired result. Regardless, these replacements can be of tremendous help when you’re short on cream cheese.
This choice is a very common substitute for cream cheese, as it shares a close consistency. Plus, mascarpone cheese will boost the nutritional content of baked goods as it’s richer and creamier. It works particularly well in fillings, spreads, frostings, and desserts.
But mascarpone cheese isn’t as salty or tangy as cream cheese. But that issue can be fixed by adjusting to the flavor. Add a sprinkle of salt and one or two squeezes of fresh lemon juice to lift the taste to cream cheese’s level. You should also know that this option is very high in fat if you avoid such foods.
Plain Greek Yogurt
This low-carb food is another excellent substitute for cream cheese, especially if your recipe calls for tanginess. It doesn’t just give your dish a sour flavor but is also rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. Plain Greek yogurt can work in equal proportions as cream cheese in your recipe, especially when you’re making dips, spreads, frosting.
But this substitute is found wanting when it comes to consistency. To correct this lag, you can strain the plain Greek yogurt using cheesecloth to thicken and match the consistency of cream cheese. Once it’s thick enough, add a little salt and whip with a whisk until it’s creamy.
This option is known for its soft texture, sweet and tangy taste and is a fantastic source of calcium, vitamin B12, protein, and riboflavin. And it’s a perfect replacement for cream cheese in dips, fillings, spreads, and other baked goods. Regular Ricotta lacks the decadence and thickness of cream cheese, but you can get a perfect substitute for cream cheese with a bit of tweak.
First, consider straining the Ricotta in cheesecloth until it reaches a sturdy thickness. Then, puree the cheese in a food processor with lemon and whip it until creamy. If it still doesn’t match up the way you want, thicken it with a bit of heavy cream. And once the preferred consistency is attained, use it in equal amounts as cream cheese for baking.
This substitute is similar to cream cheese but slightly lower in fat with a chunkier texture. But the latter can be made smoother by pureeing with a dash of lemon juice. If you’re still not satisfied, you can strain it in a cheesecloth till it reaches your desired texture. You can also consider dry curd cottage cheese, adding cream as needed to blend the mixture. This idea will work as a perfect substitute for cream cheese when you’re baking.
Using Silken tofu, you can get a similar texture profile by adding salt and lemon for tang. And with it, you’ll have your perfect replacement for the vegan option in recipes. Tofu is mainly blended and used for vegan cheesecakes and bagel spreads due to its soft and creamy texture. And it’s highly nutritious as it packs a good amount of protein, manganese, selenium, and calcium.
But this substitute needs a bit of experimenting to master, especially if you’re gunning for a specific flavor. Adjust the taste with spices and seasonings to hit the preferred mark.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I substitute cream cheese for butter?
Yes, but not in many recipes especially. Butter is of higher fat quantity, so those who don’t bother about the difference in fat content can accept butter as a replacement for cream cheese. But you’ll still need to use less of it as a replacement for cream cheese. The reason is butter in equal amounts as cream cheese will affect the consistency of some recipes, like frosting and icings.
Can I substitute sour cream for cream cheese in baking?
Yes, you can. Sour cream adds a tangy flavor that resembles cream cheese, working. And it’s ideal, especially in blueberry cakes.
How harmful is cream cheese?
Cream cheese is a versatile dairy spread and a good source of Vitamin A. However, it’s low in protein but high in fats and calories and should be used in moderation. Cream cheese isn’t necessarily harmful but is known to boost your calorific count and body fat.
Cream cheese is present in many dishes for so many purposes. However, you may need to cut your calorie intake, avoid dairy foods, or are just out of it. So, knowing how to find and use quick substitutes like these is crucial knowledge, And these alternatives above are some of the best ways to fix the situation.