Consumers enjoy eating cream cheese in everything from cheesecakes to pâtés, from Jell-O[tm] molds to stuffed mushrooms. Since first introduced in 1880, fresh, smooth cream cheese has become an American staple. Whether starting the day with a breakfast bagel rich with flavored spread, enjoying a hot plate of enchiladas stuffed with spiced-up cream cheese for dinner, or perhaps experiencing a rich crab fondue for special occasions, the home chef has many options. Food processors, however, trying to tease taste buds with new and original offerings, have to meet different needs.

Using cream cheese presents certain challenges to food developers, and Kraft Food Ingredients Corporation (Memphis, Tenn.) provides some answers. For one thing, cream cheese is a fresh, non-cured cheese that requires refrigeration. Freezing damages the distinctive texture, so proper refrigeration is a must and adds to product costs. Cream cheese often represents one of the more expensive ingredients in many popular desserts. Since its price fluctuates considerably, food processors frequently request an ingredient that delivers the flavor and texture of cream cheese at a lower, more stable cost.

Kraft[r] Cream Cheez Blend PN 62515 and Kraft[r] Neufchatel Cheez Blend PN 70507, both introduced recently by Kraft Food Ingredients, address the cost complications for food processors that wish to use cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese in their formulations. Designed as 1:1 replacements, these blends provide similar levels of saturated fat and trans fat as standard cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese. Made with real cream and Neufchatel cheese, the two blends offer the same functional characteristics of the cheeses and can be used as direct replacements, without the costly reformulation of existing products. Kraft[r] Soft Cream Cheez Blend, PN 62527, a soft version of the Cream Cheez Blend, is ideal for products requiring a smoother texture, such as icings, fillings and spreads.

Easier on Formulations

The only changes food technologists will need to make for products switching to Kraft Cream Cheez Blend PN 62515 and Kraft Neufchatel Cheez Blend PN 70507 from traditional cream cheese applications will be in the ingredient lines; manufacturers still will be able to state “cream cheese” and “Neufchatel cheese” on the product label. These cheeses were developed to allow the manufacturer to include the standard of identity cheese in their ingredient lists, while reducing overall costs and market volatility. Wherever cream or Neufchatel cheeses have been incorporated, Kraft Cheez Blends will fit right in.

There are no similar refrigerated items on the market today. The dry ingredient alternatives that exist cannot compare with the 1:1 functionality of real cheese blends. According to Mike Jackson, senior business marketing manager, soft cheese products, “real cheese blends are the only way to 'meet the viscosity requirements of cheesecakes and fillings. Reconstituted dry ingredients require the addition of expensive emulsifiers and other additives to even approximate real-cheese texture.”

Kraft's scientists have done extensive testing, in both laboratory and real-life manufacturing settings, to confirm that Kraft Cheez Blends are truly the functional equivalents of their standard of identity counterparts. “The combination of proprietary technology and ingredients, along with the use of real, standard of identity cream and Neufchatel cheeses, means these blends mimic the standard of identity cheeses, in terms of the cheese structure itself,” adds Jackson.

A number of Kraft Food Ingredients' customers are successfully using Kraft Cream Cheez Blend and Kraft Neufchatel Cheez Blend in applications designed for traditional cheeses, and feedback has been deliciously positive.

For more information:
Kraft Food Ingredients Corporation, Michael F. Jackson