Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cheesepalooza: Crescenza

I know that there is much more to the world of cooking (and eating) than cheese. Despite the recent overwhelmingly cheesy content of my blog, I really do know this. But what you don't know is that making cheese is so completely and amazingly addictive that I can hardly stand it. 

I'd say that I would be a few cheese-ploits away from requiring an intervention. In the midst of this cheese-making, I actually woke in the middle of the night and decided to capitalize on that moment by flipping my cheese before returning to bed. Then, I brought my cheese to work, so that I could take it out of the brine on time. Yes, that is crazy. Trust me, even I thought so. But every time I have a new cheese in the cave or fridge and get to present it proudly to my friends and family... I can't help but think of what I can make next. 

In this instance, I was making crescenza, an Italian cow's milk cheese that is very soft and creamy without any real rind. It's another one of these cheeses that requires little time from start to consumption, which is always nice.

More of the same here... you ripen your milk using a combination of Aroma B mesophilic starter culture, calcium chloride, and liquid rennet. (Check out my wicked IR thermometer... love it!)

Hopefully, uncover your pot to find a nicely curdled mass.

Cut into pieces, then allow to rest and release more whey.

Stir to firm up the curds.

Time to transfer to your moulds. Now, our guidebook recommends using a Taleggio (square) mould here, which I have yet to invest in. So, I opted for my homemade moulds and making teeny-weeny little crescenzas, which could be easily polished off in one sitting... on your own... yep. 

Now, you leave them for few hours to drain, before flipping and leaving for another few hours. (This is the part where I went to bed, then flipped the cheese after waking up in the night... the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?) When I woke up in the morning, I prepped my brine and brought the container to work (along with gloves and cleaning products for its spot in my office). After its swim, I brought it back home to air dry. 

A few thoughts:
- For added flavour, I opted for an entirely whey brine and substituted whey for all of the water recommended for this brine. Plus, I have so much darn whey that I need to use it in every w(a)y possible.
- I actually really enjoyed the smaller pieces that were created by using the DIY crottin moulds, as opposed to a larger square mould. It allowed us to try the cheese at various stages of aging and compare them without having cut into the rind (the microscopic rind that is there).
- I think that the wrinkly exterior (as described in the appearance note below) was due to the small moulds that I used, the creases of the cheesecloth and the amount of whey released overnight. Maybe I could have filled the moulds a bit more to avoid this? But it really wasn't a negative.

T A S T I N G   N O T E S
  • Appearance - Very smooth interior, wrinkly exterior. 
  • Nose (Aroma) - A sweet tang. 
  • Overall Taste - Slightly salty. Creamy. 
  • Sweet to Salty - Slightly saltier due to the brining but there was an underlying sweetness.
  • Mild to Robust - Mild.
  • Mouth Feel - Creamy. This one changed as it aged... on day one, it was a bit firmer and less creamy (in comparison) but, in the next few days, the interior became significantly creamier.

The crescenza also made an appearance on our Thanksgiving cheese tasting. The comments from that tasting included: "Soft" "Smooth" "Moist" and "Light flavour."

2 thought(s):

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Crescenza club. I love this cheese, it a "quick" cheese that you can start eating right away. I can relate to getting up in the middle of the night to flip the cheese.

well done!

wannafoodie said...

Thanks, Ian! Your crescenza was definitely an inspiration.

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