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Cream Cheese for Cheesecake

Asked by sheels22. Answered on 20th May 2013

Full question

Why do most cheesecake recipes, such as NIgella's London Cheesecake, say to use cream cheese which is not sold in any of the main supermarkets? You can buy soft white cheese such as Philadelphia but this is not the same as cream cheese. When you search on-line there are a lot of people asking the same question. Where can I buy it? Thank you

Our answer

Cream cheese is a soft white cheese and is sold in most major supermarkets. The USDA define cream cheese as having a fat content of around 33% and a moisture content of 55%. It is usually made by mixing low fat milk and cream with an acid, to cause coagulation, and then heating this mixture to stop the process.

Philadelphia is the best-known cream cheese brand as it is marketed very widely across the world and usually states "cream cheese" on its packaging, though some of the packaging is now plastic resealable containers that have "cream cheese spread" marked on them. In the US other brands and own label products tend to be marked as cream cheese.

In the UK the fat content of cream cheese can theoretically be as high as 55% which may be why the UK tends to opt for the term "soft white cheese", but most people still think of this as cream cheese and the higher fat content cream cheese tends to be flavoured with garlic and herbs. If you put "cream cheese" into the search engines of most UK supermarket websites then you will find that they will bring up Philadelphia and soft white cheese.

For all of Nigella's cheesecakes the full fat soft white cheese is the type to use. If you are not sure then check the nutritional information on the packaging and look for one with a fat content of around 33%.

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