Homemade Cream Cheese


Have you seen a gorgeous no-bake cheese cake recipe you would like to try?  Or maybe you simply want some cream cheese for carrot cake icing, a dip or sandwich spread but … you are broke?  Do I sound like a commercial?

What to do

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Mala cream cheese

Many grocery items are pretty simple to produce in your average kitchen.  This is a local, simple and tastes just-as-good substitute for cream cheese.  There are many ways of making cream cheese, but this is the buttermilk or yoghurt cheese version.

Cheesecloth alternatives

All you need is mala or yoghurt, a sieve and cheese cloth.  If you do not have cheese cloth, these alternatives work well so long as you sterilize them, and are only for kitchen use:

  • clean handkerchief
  • clean pillowcase
  • clean sheet
  • remember in the past when there were no diapers and all babies used cloth nappies?  Yeah, a clean one of those.
  • or a clean piece of linen fabric



Line a sieve with a clean cheese cloth and drain the maziwa mala or yoghurt in a bowl.  Cover and leave in a cool dark place for 8-12 hours: either in the morning as you are heading out or overnight.



The “water” left in the bowl is whey and is packed full of protein.  Ways to use the left-over whey:

  • in smoothies
  • as a substitute for milk or water when baking
  • when soaking overnight oats
  • add to soups and stews
  • when boiling rice, spaghetti, oatmeal, potatoes or even when cooking ugali

The remaining thick milk solid is your substitute for cream cheese!!


Sweetened Cream Cheese


  • 500 ml yoghurt or mala
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups sifted icing sugar (powdered/confectioners)


To make “cream cheese,” line a sieve with a clean cotton or linen cloth and place this over a deep-ish bowl.  Pour the yoghurt or mala and cover loosely.  Leave it in a cool dark place for 8-12 hours.

To check if the “cream cheese” is the right consistency, gently spoon it.  You do not want it too watery, because it will simply soak up more and more icing sugar.  So, if it is still wet, leave it to drain some more.

When it is ready, using a wooden spoon, first cream the butter and then add the cream cheese.

Mix in the icing sugar and the vanilla extract and gently beat it until there are no lumps of sugar.

This is a good substitute for cream cheese icing on carrot cakes.

Savory Cream Cheese Dip

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  • 500 ml yoghurt or mala
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and black pepper
  • cumin, chives, dill, cilantro (dhania), onion powder (all optional and to suit your taste)


To make “cream cheese,” line a sieve with a clean cotton or linen cloth and place this over a deep-ish bowl.

Pour the yoghurt or mala and cover loosely.  Leave it in a cool and dark place for 8-12 hours.

The right consistency for this varies.  It could be a light dip or chunky dip.  If you want it on the light side, it can be a little “wet” and conversely for chunky dip.

This next part is really done to your taste: pound or crush the garlic. Into the “cream cheese” add the crushed garlic, whichever flavourings, salt and pepper to your taste. Serve with tortilla chips or crisps or an assortment of raw vegetables.



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