|A type of unripened cheese with a smooth texture and a sweet tangy flavor that is produced from milk and/or cream. It is very versatile and is used in a wide variety of food dishes, hors d'oeuvres, snack dips, and desserts, such as cheesecake or cake frostings. Since it is very spreadable, it is an excellent topping for crackers, bagels and sandwiches.|
Cream cheese is produced as a traditional version made with whole milk or as a version made with skim milk in order to provide a low and non fat version. The lower fat versions have 30% to 50% less fat while the non-fat has zero fat content, however, the flavor and texture are not quite as rich or creamy as the traditional version. The reduced fat versions are best used as an ingredient in recipes rather than eaten plain or as a topping. Other versions of cream cheese are also available which have been enhanced with herbs, spices or fruit to be used as flavored additions to appetizers and food dishes. Also, cream cheese is available as whipped cream cheese, which is an airy ligher textured version of the traditional cream cheese. Since it is not as firm textured and contains less volume that the traditional variety, it is lower in calories and fat content.
Another variety of cheese that is often considered to be a cream cheese is referred to as Neufchatel cheese, named for the town in France in which it originated. Traditional Neufchâtel is made with unpasteurized cow's milk, but when exported is made with pasteurized milk, generally containing a higher milk fat content. Domestic versions produced in the United States often do not contain the higher fat content cream that thickens and enrichens the texture and flavor, and they are typically higher in moisture content. Therefore, to thicken the consistency, domestic versions contain xanthan and carrageenan gums rather than higher amounts of cream or fat content. When a recipe indicates use of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese, it may be best to determine if it is a French version or the American version in order to produce the intended results.
To store, refrigerate and keep it wrapped tightly after opening. Since this type of cheese has a limited life after opening, it should be discarded if mold appears.