German style cream cheese – Say Hello to Quark!

German Quark

I know I am not being very “holidayish” these days…haven’t posted any X-mas cookie recipes or anything about Thanksgiving – to my excuse – I did very little cooking for Thanksgiving and Mike and I enjoyed a great meal and time with our friends the Sudore’s and their family – on top of the great food and company, I received a handwritten Thanksgiving Thank you Note – I was so moved by little Peyton giving me the below:

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Just this note alone makes me want to quit my day job and cook for Peyton all day long but then I would have to move in with the Sudore’s and I don’t think Mike OR the Sudore’s would appreciate that so back to my new day job which actually has started off very well and already brought me to San Francisco and DC which might also explain the lack for Christmas cookie baking, much to Mike’s dismay.

Recently I am jonesing for Quark and not cookies – I know this comes as a surprise, even to me! Now you think what is Quark and I am thinking where do I get Quark – its not necessarily a product to come by easy in the US.

We have a saying in Germany: Not macht erfinderisch – Urgency turns you into an inventor – and in the past month I had an urgency – well a craving for Quark, a milk product that has the consistency of mascarpone cheese and tastes in between Yoghurt and Sour cream. German Cheesecake is made out of Quark – not cream cheese – which lightens up the cake quite a bit. Germans eat a lot of Quark, mostly for breakfast in conjunction with jam.

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The combination of the sweet jam and refreshing “sour/yoghurt” taste turns every breakfast roll into a little bit of a dessert of its own kind. I love to eat fresh baked sourdough rolls with Nutella and Quark – sounds weird? Try it – you will love it. For a quick dessert I make a “Quarkspeise” and whip up some fresh whipped cream, beat an egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of sugar, beat the egg white separately with 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar, then mix together the egg yolk/sugar mixture with a cup or two of Quark, fold in the egg white and whipped cream and layer this sweet but light cream dessert with fresh raspberry sauce and top it with some chocolate sprinkles. Takes 3 minutes to make and is so different from all the desserts you can find here in the US. If you like you can also mix in a little bit of orange juice or add lemon or lime zest and serve it with fresh raspberries or strawberries.

I completely digress…Not macht erfinderisch…I couldn’t find Quark in the stores that I have close by and the one store that carries Quark charges $6 for a tiny little package – so I thought I give it a try and make my own Quark. What a sense of accomplishment did I feel when it turned out to be super easy, less expensive and even better tasting than store bought Quark. Give it a try! If you like it a little bit sweeter, just add sugar, jam fruit anything you like and make it your own dessert creation. Home made quark lasts approx. 2 weeks in an airtight container – of course not in my household, I love this stuff so much, I eat a big pot within 2 or 3 days ;-).

German Quark

Ingredients for approx. 1 pound of Quark:

  • 1 quart of milk – the milk can NOT be homogenized, pasteurized is fine, just NOT homogenized, then it won’t thicken
  • 1/2 quart buttermilk

Quark

Directions:

  1. In a big non reactive bowl, mix the milk and buttermilk. Cover with a towel and let it sit for 2 days at room temperature or until the mixture has thickened a little bit. If you live in a warmer climate that might only take a day, in the Pacific Northwest it takes 2 days.
  2. After your mixture has set for 1 or 2 days place the uncovered bowl into an oven at 100 degrees for 1 hour.
  3. Take the bowl out of the oven after an hour. Now you should have some solid chunks and some liquid when you move the bowl a little bit around. If not let it sit a little bit longer in the oven.
  4. Line a strainer with a big cotton kitchen towel – flour sack towels are the best and pour the liquid into the towel. Gather the ends of the towel, twist it to a little bundle and let the mixture drain for approx. 4 hours. You will see a lightly yellowish liquid separate from the white solid milk parts. That yellowish liquid is called “Molke” and actually very healthy (but not tasty) to drink – especially in the morning on an empty stomach, its kind of like a natural stomach and intestine cleanser.
  5. Scrape the thickened mixture – now Quark – into an airtight container and enjoy on toast with jam or Sourdough rolls with Nutella or substitute any cream cheese dish with Quark (and lighten up your cake) or try the German “Quarkspeise” I described above. Last but not least try substituting sour cream with “Kraeuterquark” (herbed Quark) for your baked potatoes. (Just season the quark with salt and pepper, chop in some garlic and fresh herbs and top your potato with it!).

Guten Appetit!

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