Also known as Requeijão cremoso, this thin cheese spread is great on toast, pasta, and as a versatile topping.
By Denise Browning
Requeijão cremoso or Brazilian Cream Cheese Spread is not the same thing as American cream cheese. Both are milk-derived products, mild-flavored, and white in color, but their texture is totally different. That’s right! Requeijão cremoso has a consistency similar to that of condensed milk, and is usually sold in Brazil in glass jars or plastic cups. Its mild taste varies from brand to brand, with Catupiry being the most famous brand in Brazil. Requeijão cremoso (a rough English approximation might be heck-ay-ZHOWN cray-MOH-zoo where the ZH sound is the sound that “s” makes in the word “measure”) is a versatile product! It can be used as a spread on toast, as an ingredient in pasta dishes such as macarronada com requeijão, in baked rices (arroz de forno) as a substitute for mornay sauce, in casseroles (escondidinhos) as one of the cheese layers, incorporated into stews (morangas), dolloped and stirred into mashed potatoes to make them creamier, as a filling for pão de queijo, and as a companion for serving along with guava paste (Romeo e Julieta), among other uses.
Well, from now on you won’t have to go to a Brazilian or Middle-Eastern market in order to buy requeijão cremoso. You can make it in the convenience of your own home with only 5 ingredients from your pantry and fridge!
One must take care not to confuse requeijão cremoso with a different product known as simply requeijão or requeijão de corte, a cow’s milk-based, artesanal, light yellow food product whose appearance could easily be confused with that of cheese. Requeijão de corte is a component in the gastronomy of the Brazilian states of Goiás, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Bahia. Brazilians are crazy for requeijão cremoso… and I am sure that you will be, too!
- 2 liters (about 2 qt.) reduced fat milk (2% milkfat), plus 1¼ cup warm milk
- 4 Tablespoons white vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- In a large saucepan, bring 2 liters/quarts of milk to a boil over high heat. Then, turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Once curds form, ladle the content of the pan into a strainer placed over a large bowl, and press down on the strained curds with a spoon to eliminate any excess liquid. Only curds should be left in the strainer.
- In a blender, blend together curds, butter, salt, cheese, and 1¼ cup of warm milk for about 2 to 3 minutes on high speed or until mixture is very creamy and smooth. NOTE: For a softer consistency, add a bit more milk.
- Carefully pour the requeijão cremoso into sterilized and dried glass jar(s) or container(s) with tight lid(s). Store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before using as a spread for toast.