Thomas J. Story
The secret of great fromage blanc: The Cowgirls enrich their fromage blanc with tangy, thick crème fraîche instead of the usual way, with milk. Pure genius. Plus, crème fraîche, which is expensive in stores, couldn’t be simpler to make at home.
Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp. buttermilk into a small bowl and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. Stir; keep chilled and use within a week. Makes about 1 cup.
Step 1: “Ripen” the milk
- 1 gal. pasteurized whole milk
- A dairy thermometer
- 1/8 tsp. fromage blanc culture
- 1 drop (0.1 ml.) vegetarian rennet
- 2 drops (0.2 ml.) calcium chloride
Pour milk into an 8- to 10-qt. heavy-bottomed pot and insert dairy thermometer. Heat milk over medium-high heat to 85°, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat, remove thermometer, and sprinkle culture as evenly as possible over milk; let rest 10 minutes, then gently stir 1 minute in one direction. Dilute rennet in 2 tbsp. cool water and pour in evenly all over the milk; stir the same way. Dilute calcium chloride in 2 tbsp. cool water; pour and stir as you did the culture and rennet.
Stir once in opposite direction to stop movement of milk. Cover with cheesecloth; let rest overnight on counter.
Step 2: Drain your curds
Ladle curds out of the pot into a large colander, lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set over a clean bucket. About 10 cups of whey will drain into the bucket; use for homemade ricotta (see How to make ricotta cheese; transfer whey to a bowl in the fridge whenever there’s enough to collect).
Drain curds 6 to 8 hours at room temperature, until the cheese resembles thick sour cream, scooping and turning with a soup spoon every hour or so in order to let the curds dry evenly.
Step 3: Dress your curds
- ½ cup crème fraîche, homemade (see recipe above) or store-bought
- ¾ to 1 tsp. fine sea salt
Turn fromage blanc into a large bowl and stir in crème fraîche and salt to taste. Cheese is now ready to eat. It keeps, chilled in an airtight container, up to 1 week. Makes 4 cups, plus 10 cups whey.
Per ounce: 45 Cal., 60% (27 cal.) from fat; 2 g protein; 3 g fat (2 g sat.); 2 g carbo (0 g fiber); 40 mg sodium; 15 mg chol.