Cream cheese is a favorite for many different foods -- whether it be as a spread on bagels with lox, a foundation of sweet cheesecake or added to dishes such as macaroni 'n' cheese for an extra creamy consistency. But how can you make your own cream cheese, and what are some ways you should you use it?

The Origin Of Cream Cheese

Cream cheese isn't your run-of-the-mill cheese. It has a taste all its own, somewhere in between indulgently savory and deliciously sweet, and a smooth texture.

Though there were early prototypes of cream cheese that were documented in Europe as far back as the 1500s, the earliest modern cream cheese recipes can be dated back to the 18th century in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And by the 1800s, numerous farms in the Philly area were producing their own cream cheese recipes, but it didn't become mass-produced until nearly the turn of the 20th century.

In the year 1873, a dairyman named William Lawrence took ownership of a Neufchatel cheese factory, where he added cream instead of milk to a recipe to create an ultra-smooth cheese. His creation was a hit, and Lawrence went on to make the first brand of cream cheese and teamed up with other cheese merchants and distributors to sell their product. They called it "Philadelphia Cream Cheese," and the brand is still popular throughout the U.S. today.

white bowl of cream cheese

Liliya Kandrashevich/Shutterstock

Easy Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe

Not looking to run to the store for a tub of your favorite cream cheese brand? No worries -- you can easily make your own delectable cream cheese at home with this simple recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¼-½ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat, stirring constantly
  • Simmer and stir the milk until it curdles completely
  • Pour the curdled milk into a sieve with cheesecloth to strain the whey from the curdles. After it's strained, let it cool.
  • Blend the curds until they are smooth and creamy
  • Add salt to taste

When you add the salt, you can add any other flavoring you would like to the cream cheese, whether it be herbs, spices or fruits. The cream cheese must be stored in the refrigerator, where it can be kept fresh for up to two weeks.

original cheesecake on a white plate and wood table

Vladislav Noseek/Shutterstock

How To Use Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is a delicious accompaniment to desserts such as red velvet cupcakes or carrot cake. All you need to turn cream cheese into a decadent frosting is add butter, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix everything together.

Cheesecake

Cream cheese is the key ingredient in cheesecake. The process to making this creamy cake can be a bit intricate and takes a long time to make, but the delicious dessert is well worth the effort and time.

Cream Cheese Squares

These squares are delicate, creamy, buttery treats that are not only simple to make, but will be devoured immediately. Just combine all the ingredients and bake for 30 minutes until they're crisp.

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