Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Let’s Get Cheesy!

What happened to the last couple of weeks?  Oh, yeah, soccer for both kids this season– let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to teach a three-year-old to play soccer in the freezing (by Southern standards, of course) cold.

And here it is, time for another Daring Kitchen post.

I wasn’t able to participate in the sausage-making challenge last month, but this month Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess,  challenging us to make our own homemade cheeses. She gave us a variety of choices to make.  I went for the easiest of all: Yogurt Cheese.  Requiring only one ingredient: yogurt, you really couldn’t ask for a more simple recipe.  That said, I have to admit that I had to make it twice.  Hey, I also burn toast.  Simple isn’t always my friend.

Yogurt Cheese

 inspired by Tim Smith’s Making Artisan Cheeses: 50 Fine Cheeses That You Can Make in Your Kitchen

All it takes is 18 to 36 ounces yogurt, a bowl, a strainer, and some cheese cloth or cotton cloths.  That’s it.

Take a bowl and put a sieve or strainer on top.

Line the strainer with cheese cloth or a cotton cloth.  In the challenge instructions it was recommended that we skip the cheese cloth because of the large weave, but I didn’t have a problem using it for this.  I just used four layers of it.

Now, my first attempt was with this stuff:

And I’ve got to tell you, as a yogurt, I love this kind.  I use it in the dressing for my five-cup fruit salad.  I eat it with granola.  I eat it with blueberries, and strawberries, and no berries at all.  But for the purposes of this recipe, it just didn’t work.

I put about half of the 32-ounce container, 16 ounces, into the cheese cloth.

Wrapped it up,

covered it with clear film,  and placed it in the fridge overnight.

Barely any of the liquid strained out.  Most of it wicked into the cheese cloth and only about a tablespoon of liquid appeared in the bottom of the bowl.  The result was a really thick Greek-style yogurt.  I’m pretty sure that this was because the yogurt had gelatin in it.  According to Smith’s book, the gelatin doesn’t allow the whey (the liquid in the yogurt) to separate from the curd.  So, yeah.  Oops.

Utterly delicious, but not at all what I wanted.

My second attempt was more successful.  I used Dannon’s All-Natural plain yogurt.  No ingredients other than milk in this one.  Smith’s instructions call for non-fat or low-fat yogurt, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t contain some gelatin.

This one worked much better.  After just an hour, the bowl below the sieve had already captured about 3/4 of a cup of whey,

and the consistency of the yogurt cheese was much thicker.

In the end, the yogurt cheese was like a soft cream cheese that tasted like sour cream.

It wasn’t quite sweet enough for me, but I think the addition of some powdered sugar or honey would make it just about perfect.  I can really see adding fruit, too, when it’s in season this summer– specifically sweet cherries.

We spread ours over cinnamon-raisin bagels,

and took a taste.

Verdict: pretty darn good.

Yield: approximately half the amount of yogurt you started with

10 responses to “Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Let’s Get Cheesy!

  1. I never noticed they used gelatin in some yoghurts, I’ll have to check it out next time I’m grocery shopping. For my labneh balls, I used a plain (full fat) greek yoghurt and it worked out nicely. Your labneh looks great and just looking at your bagel, I am already getting hungry 🙂

  2. They look delicious!!

  3. Your yogurt cheese looks great! Is you want a sweet veresion, try swirling some honey in it, the combination is heavenly
    Thank you for taking part in this challenge 🙂

  4. I’m glad your second attempt worked out!

  5. Great job – worth the second try! It’s amazing what weird stuff goes into quite a lot of the brands of yoghurt out there – even the ‘plain’ ones! Glad you found one that was unadulterated and perfect for cheese making in the end 🙂

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