Do you ever go into a store, see something, and think “Hey, I could make that!”? (That’s me, always.) Sometimes I try it and end up spending more time and money than buying the pre-made version, but often, homemade anything yields major dividends.
Cheese falls in the “worth it” category. Kirstin Jackson, of It’s Not You, It’s Brie taught me a quick way to not only make my own fromage blanc (a fresh, white cheese from France), but also two fun ways to dress it up—one savory (with herbs and olive oil), one sweet (with cardamom, honey, and cookies!). Whether you want to make it a weekend project and sip some wine while you make cheese, or buy plain fromage blanc (ricotta works, too!) and jazz it up, you’ll delight in the end result.
Recipe: Homemade Fromage Blanc + Sweet and Savory Variations (by Kirstin Jackson)
This is the easiest way to serve your fromage blanc, ever. Serve the savory version as an appetizer before dinner, or passed during brunch alongside crostini or crusty bread. The sweet version is perfect served for dessert with a side of a crisp cookie like shortbread, or gingersnaps (serve this with a light desert wine and you’ll be everyone’s best friend).
Herbed Fromage Blanc
1 cup fromage blanc
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Once drained and salted, add one cup fromage blanc to a small mixing bowl. Add the salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs. Gently stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the fromage blanc is evenly flecked with herbs.
Spoon into a cute container, drizzle with the olive oil, and set out with crostini or crusty bread.
Cardamom and Honey Fromage Blanc
1 cup fromage blanc
2 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 tsp cinnamon
In a small mixing bowl, combine the honey, cardamom and honey. Gently stir with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly incorporated, then taste the cheese. Is it sweet enough for you? If not, add some extra honey a teaspoon at a time until the flavor suits you.
Spoon the fromage black into a cute container and set out with shortbread cookies or gingersnaps.
Homemade Fromage Blanc
1 gallon low fat or whole milk *
2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk
2 drops calcium chloride
2 drops rennet
2 teaspoons salt
Note: Kirstin recommends this source for some of these specialty ingredients!
Pour milk into a thick-bottomed, stainless steel or enamel pot. While stirring over medium heat with a spatula, bring milk to 86 degrees F. Once at 86, remove pot from heat.
While stirring gently for 20 seconds, add the buttermilk to the pot. Repeat with the calcium chloride. Move the pot to a draft and agitation-free location between 60 and 80 degrees (wrap a bath towel around the pot to keep the milk warm if necessary) where the pot can remain untouched for up to 24 hours. Move the milk before adding rennet or the curd may not set properly.
Add the rennet to the pot. Stirring gently only to combine, stir slowly for 15 seconds in one direction, then reverse the motion for 1 to 2 seconds just to stop the motion of the milk.
Cover the pot and leave it in your safe place for 12-24 hours. After 12-18 hours, the milk will smell and look like yogurt—if it doesn’t, let it sit for a couple more hours. The warmer the room and the longer the milk sits, the more acidic it becomes, so let the curd sit longer if you like a super-lemony fromage blanc!
Once yogurt-like, gently ladle the curd into a colander lined with finely textured cheese cloth (fold the cloth twice if its holes are too big). After all the curd is in the cloth, gather the corners and knot the cloth around the end of a wooden spoon to form a bag. Hang the pouch-bag from the wooden spoon over a bowl to catch the whey. Drain at room temperature for 5 hours or until desired firmness.
Once drained, transfer the fromage blanc to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the salt and gently mix the cheese to distribute moisture and homogenize the texture (add the salt even if you’re making a sweet cheese later).
Add your desired delicious seasonings as follow. Will keep refrigerated for up to 7 days
Psst! A few recipe notes:
*Use low-fat milk for a silkier and fluffier cheese, and whole for a richer, thicker fromage blanc. Raw, or pasteurized milk are both great for this recipe, but do not use ultra or flash-pasteurized milk (it will say on the carton)—it won’t form a curd!