I am trying to make processed cheese (like Velveeta or Eden) to use as a topping on cakes and desserts. It’s not available here in the UK – the only type we have is soft and spreadable (Dairalea) or already sliced and packaged as ‘singles’.

In the UK , there isn’t much demand for it I guess – in the normal way we’d probably use a mild cheddar instead. Its only as I bake a lot of Filipino pastries and cakes that I have need for it: cheddar turns hard and brittle if left on a cake, but the processed cheese stays soft. It also adds a creamy element rather than a particularly cheesy flavour.

If I am going to get it, I am going to have to make it.

Originally, processed cheese like this started when left over bits of cheese were heated up, mixed with milk, oil, and an emulsifier – a smart way to use leftovers. It had the added benefits of a longer shelf-life, uniform behaviour, and more ‘meltyness’.

So, I found a recipe by America’s Test Kitchen Feed. By adding a milk and gelatin the rubbery texture can be replicated, plus it will melt at a lower temperature. It requires ‘whole milk powder’ which can be a little tricky to find. Serious Eats amended the recipe to use evaporated milk – to skip trying to find whole milk powder – in order to make the perfect burger slice.

The thing is, they don’t add extra oil. I can’t help but think the better stability (when sitting atop a cake) is down to the higher fat content as much as anything else. I think I need to add some margarine too. I therefore looked into which emulsifiers I could use and found an article on ModernistCuisine using sodium phosphate (in fact, they decide to use sodium citrate – as it is ‘easier to find’, but I have sodium phosphate because of sausage making). They don’t add extra fat, but at least they give a benchmark for how much phosphate to add – and I know it will help any extra oil to emulsify.

I found the result a little too salty – so I have reduced the salt in the final recipe to 1 teaspoon. I used a mild cheddar, as I only want a mild creamy processed cheese.

If I was only going to use it in burgers or sandwiches I would opt for a stronger flavour – maybe a more exotic cheese! It can be set in a thin layer to make ‘singles’, that is what Serious Eats were doing – aiming to create the perfect burger cheese (they used double the gelatin, which I would do too for slices).

So this is my merge of the different approaches:

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbs water
  • 12 g powdered gelatin (1 sachet)
  • 365 ml full fat milk
  • 2.5 tbs (whole) milk powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.3 tsp cream of tartar
  • 830 g cheese
  • 12 g (1.5 %) phosphate
  • 1/2 cup of margarine or butter

Method:

  1. Line a loaf tin with cling wrap – with plenty of excess hanging over the sides.
  2. In a small bowl, add the water to the gelatin and leave to dissolve.
  3. In a large pan, combine the milk, powder, salt and cream of tartar and slowly heat.
  4. When the milk approaches boiling, turn the heat off and add the gelatin, and the cheese, phosphate and marg.
  5. Return to the heat, and stir until well combined. Once the cheese has reached melting point, use a stick blender and blitz it until smooth.
  6. Pour into the lined tin (I can’t see why, if you have a non-stick tin why you couldn’t set it first  and then wrap once set) wrap up and chill until set.

IMG_3045.JPGI will slice the loaf into about 5 blocks and freeze them until needed.