Chevre is the generic word used for any goat cheese, and comes in many shapes and flavours. Originating in France, this versatile cheese can be used as a sweet or a savoury, served fresh or aged. One of the simplest recipes follows, and can be adapted for use in so many recipes. We use this mixed with minced garlic and sea salt as a spread or dip, plain in lasagne in place of ricotta, and with icing sugar added to taste in a sponge with liberal lashings of raspberry jam and chocolate fudge sauce. You can even use it in place of cream cheese in cheesecake recipes!
4 liters goat’s milk (you can use half the amount, and then use half the amount of starter). You can also cow’s milk, with a thicker result and slightly different taste
1 packet direct-set chevre starter culture (which also contains the setting agent) OR 1/8 tsp mesophilic culture OR if you have your own homemade starter culture, use 1 tablespoon. Direct-set starter packets are available for purchase from a variety of cheese making suppliers on the internet.
Rennet (if you use the prepared starter culture, omit rennet and water)
- In 5 tablespoons of cool water, place several drops of junket rennet (Renco is readily available in many New Zealand supermarkets. Again, if you are using the direct set starter, leave out this step. If you are using other than junket rennet, follow the packet instructions for the volume of milk you are using. The amount of rennet will vary according to the type of curd set you need for the cheese you are wanting to make.
- Heat the milk to 30C. Add the starter culture and stir thoroughly. Add 1 tablespoon of your dilute rennet solution, and stir again, slowly and thoroughly.
- Cover and let set at room temp (approx 22C) for 12 hours, or until it is set like a loose jelly. It may take more time, it may take less.
- Line a colander with a fine towel or 2 layers of cheesecloth. Ladle the curd into the colander. Tie the corners of the cloth into a bag and let drain for 6-12 hours, till a nice, spreadable consistency.
This will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If you can bear to leave it to age for two weeks in a dark corner of the fridge, it takes on a whole new dimension of flavour complexity.
With the results of the above recipe, you can make the following crustless cheesecake, which also happens to be entirely gluten-free.
680 g chevre, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp rice flour (any flour is fine, but as we tend to avoid gluten, this is what I use)
2 tsp grated lemon rind (can also use orange or lime for a different flavour)
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp goat milk
Prepare springform pan with lined bottom and grease it.
Combine cheese and eggs. Beat with electric mixer till smooth. Then, add while continuing to beat, sugar, the flour, and flavorings. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 165C for 70 - 75 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool in oven. Do not open the spring-form pan until the cake is completely cool.