Friday, October 10, 2014

Eats: DIY Velveeta

Hello! Let me begin by saying I'm not really a Velveeta fan - it seems kind of fake to meHowever, I did buy some a couple of years ago to make a particular cheese spread recipe that called for it as the major ingredient. And I've seen other recipes calling for Velveeta that look good, but was reluctant to try them - just didn't feel good using it.

But then I read a recent email from the folks at King Arthur, extolling the ease of making a Velveeta clone at home, using only grated cheese, powdered milk, a bit of unflavored gelatin, and water. When a commenter mentioned that she and her husband use Velveeta for grilled cheese sandwiches, I decided to try the clone recipe. I do like a good grilled cheese once in awhile, but it always seemed like the bread browned before the cheese melted.

The King Arthur recipe tester said she used pre-shredded Cheddar  cheese, but I opted for buying some chunks and grating it myself. While in the cheese aisle, I also studied the ingredient label on a block of Velveeta - the list was longer than that for the Kraft cheddar I purchased.

As promised in the King Arthur write-up, the DIY Velveeta was easy to make; a blender or food processor makes it so (I used the latter). I whipped up the recipe last night, then refrigerated it. It's supposed to set, chilled, for at least 12 hours. 

Had the moment of truth when it was time to unwrap my Velveeta clone at lunchtime earlier today:

I'd used  an 8x4 loaf pan (lined with plastic wrap first) as my "mold". This resulted in a block about 1" high. I think next time I'll put the mixture in a smaller pan to give it a shape closer to that of the commercial product. 

Other than the shape being different, my clone looked just like Velveeta. However, I found it a bit soft when I sliced it for my grilled cheese sandwich.  It was close to spreading consistency, so I ended up doing just that on a bread slice. I don't know if the softness is typical for this recipe, or maybe I was just used to Velveeta's rubbery texture. 

But at least by starting out with something that's already on the soft side, I wouldn't have the problem of the bread being done before the cheese is. Here's how my grilled cheese sandwich turned out, perfectly cooked:

Ta da! Behold, DIY Velveeta, tomato and grilled hot banana peppers on homemade potato/whole wheat sourdough bread. It was nice comfort food after several days of dealing with various home repair issues - very tasty, and a nicer cheese taste to boot. Some commenters said  they think the DIY recipe makes for a less salty product as well.

I used Kraft sharp cheddar for my version, but you can use any cheddar you want (different brands, mild vs. sharp, etc). And I wouldn't be surprised if this worked equally well for other cheeses that melt nicely on their own, like Swiss for example. I don't know if the recipe would work with reduced-fat cheeses, but it wouldn't hurt to try. 

Now I can try that cheese spread recipe I had abandoned, as well as other Velveeta-based recipes I'd been loathe to make! 

If you'd like to make your own DIY Velveeta, start HERE. Within the article is the link to the recipe from a blog called Brown Eyed Baker.

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