This week I received a more than welcome media package of Laughing Cow and Kiri Cream Cheeses from Errieda du Toit PR. Laughing Cow Cream Cheese is a big favourite in our house where my 2 year old granddaughter calls it ‘COW’. Good news for locals is that both The Laughing Cow and Kiri Cream Cheeses are now being made in George on the Garden Route. These two flagship brands in the stable of The Bel Group, the French dairy company founded in 1865, have been previously imported.
The locally-made The Laughing Cow, happily sporting its familiar logo of the fun-loving, earring-wearing red cow, will be available as individually wrapped wedges in the following formats: Plain (8 and 16 wedges); Light, Cheddar and Vegetable Fat variants (8 wedges). The cheese is also available in tubs as spreads in tubs: Mild cheese flavour and Cheddar flavour, both in 250g and 380g tubs. Local production of Kiri, the cream cheese perfected by the French, focuses on the 200 g tub, a pack size format perfect for baking and cooking. Made with milk and fresh cream its gentle tang and subtle flavour suit savoury and sweet dishes.
“I’m always on the look-out for fresh ideas to update relied-upon family favourites or easy recipes for casual cooking, making cream cheese a stalwart in my kitchen,” says Errieda du Toit, cookbook author and National Living Treasure. “The fact that Kiri is now produced on the Garden Route – a region with a rich dairy history – encourages me to always have a tub or two handy. ”She adds that while the individually wrapped Kiri portions are ideal for spreading and a real nostalgic lunch box treat, she explores the versatility of the medium fat cream cheese in tubs.
“From topping a traditional bobotie with tangy cream cheese custard, turning beetroot into a trendy salad with Kiri ‘croutons’, or adding decadence to a savoury tart, Kiri is a trusted cooking companion in my kitchen,” she says. “Great things happen when it’s stirred through pasta or sauces, going all silken and smooth as it melts. Ditch flour-heavy bechamel for cream cheese, use it as filling for braai bread or add interest to chicken breast with a fragrant herbal Kiri stuffing.”
Locally made Kiri also expands the baker’s cream cheese horizon: brownies with swirls of cheesecake; rolled oat waffles with dollops of whipped cream cheese flavoured with crushed berries; the ultimate New York deli cheesecake with syrupy apricots or a tropical hummingbird cake with honeyed cream cheese frosting.
This triple-tested recipe is your guide to the perfect New York style baked cheese cake. Such a classic doesn’t really need anything else, yet serving it with syrupy apricots on the side takes it to new heights.
200 g tennis biscuit crumbs*
15 ml sugar
pinch of salt
65 ml (60 g) melted butter
Make the Crust
Mix the biscuit crumbs, sugar en salt in a large bowl and stir in the melted butter. Using your fingers, press the biscuit mixture on to the bottom of the spring-form tin in an even layer, with just a slight rise along the inside edges of the tin.
Preheat the oven to 175 °C. Brush the sides of 20 cm diameter, 7 cm high spring-form cake tin with melted butter. Have a large, high-sided roasting tin ready (the latter for the water bath). Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let the crust cool before wrapping the cake tin in foil.
Triple wrap the cake tin in heavy-duty foil. Place the cake tin in the centre of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the tin. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the tin.
*Hint: You need a nice dense crumb crust which won’t go soggy under the wet filling. Ring in the change with a hybrid crust combining a duo of your favourite biscuits – digestive, shortbread, ginger nuts, amaretti biscuits or stay old-school with tennis biscuits.
3 x 200g tubs Kiri cream cheese, at room temperature
220 ml (180 g) sugar
pinch of salt
7 ml vanilla essence or 50 ml lemon juice
3 large eggs
120 ml sour cream
120 ml cream
Lower the oven temperature to 160 °C.
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixture. Using the paddle attachment mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add half the sugar, beat for 2 minutes, scrape the sides then add the remaining sugar and beat another 2 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla or lemon juice and mix until combined.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides, then add the sour cream and cream and beat until incorporated. Pour the mixture over the crumb layer in the tin, smooth the top with a spatula.
Place the foil covered cake tin in a deep roasting pan and place in the oven on the lower rack. Carefully pour in boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake tin.
Bake for 90 minutes at 160 °C. See notes below how to know when your cheesecake in done. Turn the heat off the oven, slightly open the oven door and let the cake cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. This gentle cooling will help prevent the surface of the cheesecake from cracking. Cover the top of the cheese cake with foil and cool completely, 4 hours or overnight, then refrigerate.
How to know if the cheesecake is done baking: When finished baking, the outer ring of your cheesecake should look slightly puffed and set, but the inner circle should still wobble slightly (like jelly after it has set).
How to know if it’s still underbaked: Continue baking if the outer ring is still wobbly or the middle is more slosh than wobble, as if it’s still liquid beneath the surface. Continue to bake, checking every five minutes or so.
What if it’s over-baked: If it starts to look puffed in the centre or the top starts to crack, turn off the oven immediately, leave oven door slightly ajar and leave in the oven to cool completely. Don’t fret about small cracks, the cheesecake will taste the same.
Turkish Apricots in Rosemary Syrup (highly recommended, but optional)
Place 180 g soft Turkish apricots, 180 ml honey and 3 sprigs rosemary in 750 ml water in a medium-sized saucepan, bring to the boil over moderate heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon and boil the syrup with the rosemary until the syrup thickens, about 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary. Spoon the syrup over the apricots and set aside to cool. Transfer to a pretty glass dish and serve with the cheesecake.
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Information from EDTPR