Country of Origin: Canada
Milk-type: Pasteurized Cow’s milk
Named for a soft white cheese with a bloomy rind, originating in 6th century France, Fromage Neufchâtel: North American “Neufchatel-style” Cream Cheese seems relatively dissimilar to its eponymous inspiration at first glance. The North American version is entirely rindless, with a notably milder aroma and flavour—creamy, rich, and somewhat sweet, but with none of the sharp-sour tasting notes of the original, and without the at-times pungent aroma of mushrooms which can arise from a bloomy mold rind.
Purportedly, the shared-name stems from the work of a William Lawrence of Chester, New York who—in the 1872—added extra cream to a recipe for French Neufchâtel cheese, and in doing so created the first American Cream cheese. Lawrence was the first person to mass-produce a cream cheese in America, and his sizeable business laid the original foundation for some of the largest contemporary producers thereof.
Nowadays, Neufchatel-style cream cheese is distinguished from other cream cheeses by its somewhat softer consistency and especially refined flavour. It is subtly sweet, with a decadently rich dessert character; milk, milky aroma; and a sumptuously full, fatty mouthfeel. Neufchâtel-style cream cheese is at once luxuriously thick, and tantalizingly delicate and light. The smooth texture lends this cheese to easy spreading, and it is popularly enjoyed as an integral component of cheesecake; spread over toasted or fresh bagels, or upon freshly baked bread with a variety of both sweet and savoury accompaniments. Especially affable pairings include, on the sweet end of the spectrum: strawberries, peaches or apricots, fruit jam or compote, frangipane, honey, and a variety of nuts; or—if you prefer a more savoury, contrasting complement—with lox, smoked salmon, pickled cabbage or turnip, red onion, capers, fresh dill, fresh or pickled hot peppers, or pepper jelly.