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Triple Creme Cheese

Yes... it's cold outside!

... at least here in New England.

And when the temperature drops, our thoughts turn to comfort foods and to me that spells 'rich' as in a bit more butterfat in the cheese.

So, for this months cheese, we will 'up' the cream a bit and make a triple creme cheese!


Today in America, what we call cream cheese is a far-removed descendant of the rich, creamy, fresh and briefly cured cheese known as double and triple crèmes. Originally from France, more recently they also are being produced in parts of Spain, Italy and Denmark. All are exceptionally rich and luscious and vary in style as shown here:
  • BRILLAT-SAVARIN: From Normandy, this triple crème is a thick, plump, white disk, with a buttery texture and elasticity. Hot cream is added to the cows milk to up the fat content to 75%. Cured for about three weeks with a thin, bloomy rind, it should be served young.
  • BOURSAULT: Invented in 1953 by Henri Boursault, a soft, triple crème with a thin-crust.
  • PROVENCAL: A French triple crème cheese flavored either with herbs and garlic or with pepper.
  • ST. ANDRÉ: tastes like a combination of sour cream and butter.
  • PIERRE ROBERT: A buttery soft-ripened triple crème enriched with fresh cream.
  • EXPLORATEUR: A soft-ripened, cows milk triple crème, with a bloomy edible rind similar to Brie.
  • MARGOTIN: This French triple-crème is a mixture of cows and goats milk, which makes it a less fatty, drier cheese.

These cheeses vary in texture from very soft to semi-firm, and range from subtle creaminess to tangy and aggressive in taste.

Some are "unripened" with a fresh, delicate tang; those that are cured for about three weeks before coming to market develop a thin, bloomy crust.

Other triple and double crèmes are blended with a mixture of herbs and garlic or spices; still others have blue veining. Many are cow's milk cheeses. While double and triple crèmes vary in flavor and style, they all share a richness and creaminess.


Double and triple cream cheeses are a rather modern addition to the cheese world, most having been introduced during the early to mid 20th century.

Triple crème cheeses are the result of extra cream being added to the milk in making soft-ripened cheeses. Think .. camembert/brie taken to another level!

Triple crème cheeses are defined by law to have at least 75% butterfat (double-crèmes must contain between 60-74% butterfat). Brillat-Savarin, St. André and Explorateur, are the most readily recognized names of triple crème cheeses. However, there are many lesser-known cheeses such as Gratte-Paille and Pierre Robert; goat-cheeses like Can Pujol (also known as Nevat); and Brebrioux, a sheep's milk cheese, that are growing in status.


All about the cream and butterfat:

Any triple cream cheese will be found to contain at least 75% butterfat and often much higher.

… Wait … don't panic yet !

The way fat is measured in all cheese is on the basis of "fat in dry matter" or F/DM. This means that after all of the water is removed and just the solids left behind, this is how much of those solids is fat. As the water is removed, the relative percentage of fat, of course, is increased, since it is left behind in the cheese.

The primary reason for using this F/DM is actually a means to measure fat in food to help people understand just how much fat is being consumed, since water in the equation would make the percentage fat quite meaningless. The idea is to compare apples to apples here.

Therefore, in a cheese such as a high fat Brie or a double or triple cream cheese that normally has a moisture content of 45% so the actual fat level is already down to about 40% of what you are actually consuming when the moisture is factored back in.

By comparison a Cheddar can be 22-28%.

From this, you can easily see that the milk going into the vat to make a triple creme cheese must obviously be enriched with cream (unless you are working with a ewe's milk with high butterfat already) this means adding some high butterfat cream to the milk.
For example, if a normal pasteurized milk at 3.25% were to be used to make a triple cream cheese you could use:

  • 10-12 oz. of heavy cream (36-40% butterfat)
  • to 118 oz. of the 3.25% milk
  • for 1 gallon of milk at 6% butterfat

That same 6% becomes 75% cream when all moisture is removed.

In Using Raw Milk...
In my cheese room here, I often use a raw Jersey milk which averages about 4.8% fat for making small Bries. When I consider my yield from this milk and the final moisture, this makes a cheese of about 60% F/DM which definitely pushes it into the 'double creme' category.
If I want to push this over the edge into 'triple creme' territory, I would only need to add about 4-5 oz of the heavy cream to 124 oz. of this 4.8% milk.

BUT, for this recipe we are going to make things easy to get and use pasteurized whole milk from the store and some heavy cream as noted below in the guidelines.

...

A recipe for making a triple creme cheese

The cheese I make in the following guideline is made from a pasteurized milk right from the store plus heavy cream that has been ultra-pasteurized. Since the cream is mostly butterfat and water, the UP will not be a problem because most of the proteins will be provided by the milk.

Before you begin:

You will need:

Everything needs to be clean and sanitized.


Acidifying and heating the milk:

In sourcing the milk, do not use any ultra-pasteurized milk but ultra-pasteurized cream is OK. It is the butterfat you need from cream. Homogenized is also good for making this cheese because it will resist the tendency of the cream to rise during coagulation.

Begin by heating separately:

  • 118 oz. of the whole milk (1gallon less the 10 oz. of heavy cream to be added) to 86-88F
  • and 10 oz. heavy cream to 100F (the warm cream will blend better with the warm milk)

You do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this in a pot on the stove, make sure you heat the milk slowly and stir it well as it heats.

As your milk reaches 80F, combine the milk and cream and add 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride then mix gently and continue heating to target temperature.

Once the milk is at the 86-88F temperature, the culture can be added.
Add the pack of Buttermilk culture and 1/16 tsp P.candidum and a pinch (1/64 tsp) of Geotrichum.

To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in.

Keep the milk/cream combo covered at this temperature for about 60 minutes while the bacteria begin to work.

Coagulation with rennet:

Next, add slightly less than 1/4 tsp (1.0 ml) of single strength liquid rennet. This will be slightly more than if making a Camembert and is needed due to the higher fat content. Dilute the rennet in about 1/4 cup non-chlorinated water, then add to the milk.
Stir the milk/cream mix gently in an up and down manner for about 1 minute.
If the cream tends to rise to the surface, it is best to top stir (just across the surface gently) every few minutes for the first 8-10 minutes but this should be minimal and only as needed to help the cream mix back in and must stop before the milk begins to thicken.

The pot now needs to set till for at least 90 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temp drops a few degrees during this time. You should notice the milk begin to thicken at about 15-20 minutes, but allow it to firm up for the full time.
If you find the curd still too soft, you can hold it for another 1/2 hour.
Some of the French producers using very slow fermentations use less rennet and hold for up to 3-4 hours before cutting.

The longer setting time for this curd formation will insure a higher level of moisture being held by the final cheese and is largely responsible for the soft creamy texture of these cheeses.

***During this time, sanitize your draining area, colander, draining cloth, molds and mats and arrange in the draining area to receive the curds after the next step.


Cutting curds and releasing the whey:

Once a firm curd forms, the surface is cut with a long knife vertically in a large checkerboard manner of about 1 inch squares, then allowed to rest 5 minutes while the cuts heal and whey is released. Then the curd is broken down using a spoon or flat ladle to cut horizontally into 1 inch pieces.

Then it is allowed to rest again for 5 minutes before a slow and gentle stir begins for another 10 minutes to release more whey. If your temperature has dropped at this point, this is a good time to return it to the original temperature during this stirring phase.


Removing the whey:

Next, the curds can be allowed to settle under the whey and the free whey ladled off.

The curds can now be transferred to a colander lined with butter muslin. They should be allowed to drain for 30 minutes.

Some producers will leave the cut curd to settle in the whey for 12-14 hours instead of using the pre-draining step above. I have not tried this yet.


Forming the cheese:

Any combo of our small molds can be used:

  • The Camembert form will require 2 molds and produce a low form but wider disc shape, similar to Camembert.
  • The Crottin, Chevre, or Saint Marcellin forms will need 3-4 molds and produce a smaller, more compact cheese.

The pre-drained curd can now be transferred to the sanitized molds and arranged on the draining mat to begin matting into their final shape. This should take place at about 70-74F and should last another 24 hours, turning the cheese at least 3 times during this time, beginning 4-6 hours after molding. The next morning they will have sunk to about half of the original fill height.


Salting:

The next morning, the cheese is ready to be salted on the top surface. The total salt should be about 2 teaspoons for the cheese from 1 gallon of milk (about 1.5-2% by weight of salt to cheese).

Use 1/2 of this salt (1tsp) distributed evenly between the top surface of all cheeses and then spread that evenly over top surface and sides only. I generally place these back in the molds with salt side up to allow the salt brine to form and to be absorbed by the cheese.

The other side can be salted in the afternoon using the other half of the salt and a similar procedure.


Aging:

On the following morning (day 3), the cheese is removed from the molds and moved to a drier room with moisture at about 65-75% and 58-65F. The purpose of this will be to dry off any residual surface moisture and it may take anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on the room conditions.

Your triple cremes are now ready for a brief aging but not more than a few weeks usually. However, they must be kept in a damp, cool environment to keep from drying out. 52-58F and 90-95% moisture is good to preserve the moisture in the cheese. If you do not have a suitable space, this can easily be accomplished with a plastic box and tight fitting cover.

If you age them more than a week, the white mold should begin to cover the surface, adding another dimension to the flavor of this cheese. Otherwise you can eat them fresh after just a couple of days to allow the salt to stabilize.

Finally, you can wait no longer!

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The Cheese Queen is in Food and Wine and Barbara Kingsolver's
book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!

Thanks for joining our cheese making family, keep those stories & photos coming. We love to hear from you!

In Peace,
Ricki, the cheese queen

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