This post is sponsored by Savencia.
Cream cheese is a key ingredient for many restaurants and bakeries, forming the base of cheesecakes, pastry fillings and creamy dips. One drawback to cream cheese is the time it can take to soften, slowing down production times while chefs wait for it to come to room temperature so it can be properly whipped and mixed. To address this problem, Savencia created a pourable cream cheese product under its Smithfield brand. Developed with pastry chefs in mind, the product brings innovation to a previously stagnant category. Savencia worked with award-winning pastry chef and cookbook author Kathryn Gordon to develop sweet and savory recipes that highlight the product's versatility. In this interview, Gordon explains the development process behind Smithfield Pourable Cream Cheese and the advantages it gives chefs -- from labor savings to culinary creativity.
As a professional pastry chef, what problems did you encounter with traditional cream cheese that led to the development of Smithfield Pourable Cream Cheese?
If block cream cheese is not totally soft/room temperature, it is difficult to mix smooth. And if you mix it too long, and/or on too high a speed, it can get lumpier. We often use a strainer to help strain out the lumps in cheesecake base, for example – even if the cream cheese is at room temperature.
How did you work with Savencia to develop recipes with the product?
I helped prototype a few recipes using it, worked on three recipes for the edited recipe cards and assisted in Savencia staff training. I also helped create the videos for cream cheese mousse, savory dip and cream cheese frosting.
What are some of the advantages of cream cheese that is pourable right out of the refrigerator?
It’s faster and easier to incorporate in a recipe – resulting in labor savings, which are extremely important. And because it’s a liquid, it allows you to do different things in recipes. If you’re trying to make block cream cheese into a liquid state – well, you can skip that step because it’s already liquid. Or, if you need to cream it to thicken it up, there's no problem whipping air into it and it immediately starts to stiffen up.
What are some of your favorite dishes to make with pourable cream cheese? Where do you look for inspiration when developing new dishes?
I think any recipe that uses a tangy/fermented liquid dairy product (like sour cream, buttermilk, creme fraiche or mascarpone) or any recipe using heavy cream are candidates for at least partially substituting the liquid with the Smithfield pourable cream cheese. For example, I made a passion fruit-cream cheese pastry cream by substituting some of the pourable cream cheese and passion fruit puree for some of the milk, and it tasted great. Perfect for filling doughnuts, tarts, eclairs, cake fillings, cream pies or napoleons.
What unique applications can you make with pourable cream cheese?
The possibilities are endless and would only be limited by your imagination. The pourable cream cheese can do anything you would do with block cream cheese in a restaurant, bakery or hotel situation – and because it is a liquid, you can work with it like you would heavy cream, as well. Infusions are possible, for example.
We made a delicious artichoke panna cotta with less gelatin than it would require with heavy cream, because of the nature of the pourable cream cheese to set if it warms up and/or is agitated.
What was your first thought when you opened a 3 lb. tub of pourable cream cheese?
It was very cool! Seeing cream cheese in a liquid state for the first time is awesome. And Smithfield has a ton of delicious flavor.
Kathryn Gordon is a chef-instructor in the professional Pastry & Baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education and co-founder of Food Startup Help, a consultancy group for bakeries and food entrepreneurs. In 2017, she was named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in the United States by Dessert Professional magazine. She has co-authored two books with Anne E. McBride, “Les Petits Macarons, Colorful French Confections to Make at Home,” and “Les Petits Sweets, Two Bite Desserts from the French Patisserie.” Her third cookbook will be released this fall for Le Moulin Bregeon in France.
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