Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Top Secret Topping
Top Secret Topping

I love simple little twists on basic ingredients that create something new and spectacular, like this top secret topping.

Imagine a crystal dish of beautiful fresh strawberries or sliced summer peaches garnished with a large dollop of a snowy white, creamy topping that tastes smooth and rich and a bit tangy. Is it sour cream? crème fraiche? cream cheese? yogurt? Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

Believe or not, this luscious, rich-tasting sublime sauce is made from only cottage cheese. That’s it. Plain old cottage cheese is treated in a simple secret way that turns it into a special topping for fruit or other desserts. The secret? Whirling the cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth and creamy and then chilling it until thickened.

The credit for this creation goes to Maida Heatter, my favorite dessert cookbook author. I have all her original books from the 70’s and 80’s and I see they still continue to be reissued in various formats. Her recipes are always fabulous and I highly recommend any and all of her books.

Heatter accidentally stumbled upon this trick while experimenting with cheesecake recipes using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. She had some leftover blended cottage cheese in her refrigerator and in order to use it up she plopped some on top of fresh strawberries. She took a mouthful, expecting it to taste like cottage cheese, and then swooned with delight.

I don’t understand the science behind how simply processing and chilling plain old hum-drum cottage cheese turns it into something this rich-tasting and creamy; I’m too busy enjoying to find out.

This topping is the perfect foil for fresh fruit, especially sweet berries. Its tanginess plays against the fruit’s natural sweetness, creating seesaws of sweet and tart flavors on the tongue. And it is great for those watching their fat and calorie intake. If you like, you may sweeten it with a small amount of sugar or honey and/or add a tiny bit of flavoring, such as vanilla extract.

I like it honey-sweetened on strawberries, or sweetened and embellished with a bit of almond extract on fresh peaches. I love it slightly sweetened with sugar and tossed with coins of ripe banana, which duplicates the flavor of a favorite childhood dish my great-grandmother used to make for me with sour cream.

Top Secret
From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts

This is best made with large curd 4% cottage cheese. If you use the low fat version, it will be thinner and not as nearly delicious. For best results, use a food processor, not a blender.

1 pound (about 2 cups) large curd 4% cottage cheese
sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.) - optional
flavoring (extracts, etc.) – optional

Dump the cottage cheese into the food processor with the metal blade. Process on high speed for one full minute (time it; longer is better), stopping once to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Then process it a few more seconds for good measure.

Scrape into a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours.

Optional enhancements: Sweeten it with a few teaspoons of sugar, honey or other sweetener per cup of cottage cheese. Flavor it with 1/8 teaspoon of flavored extract per cup of cottage cheese. You may add these during the last part of the processing.

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Blogger Deborah Dowd said...
I used to process cottage cheese with dill, lemon juice and chives to make a faux sour cream topping for baked potatoes and it was realy great. I hadn't thought of a sweet version. Thanks for the inspiration!

Blogger janki said...
what a good idea!