If you've ever wanted to impress people at a party, then make this super-simple ricotta cheese. You get to decide if you'd rather make a soft or slightly firmer version. And flavor options for serving are endless - we're big fans of the classic honey and cracked black pepper. Be sure to find dairy that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized; you'll be happier with your curds and whey.
Run a double layer of cheesecloth under warm water to dampen, then gently squeeze to remove any excess water. Line a colander with the cheesecloth and set in the sink.
Combine the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Bring the milk and cream to 190 degrees F, over medium-low heat, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring frequently to keep the milk mixture from scorching on the bottom. Add half of the vinegar mixture and 1 tablespoon salt and stir for 10 seconds (you'll see the milk mixture begin to slightly curdle). Remove from the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and let sit for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and you'll see that the milk mixture has separated into small curds. Now stir in the remaining vinegar mixture and the milk mixture will continue to curdle. Stir for a few minutes. Pour this entire mixture into the prepared colander in the sink.
Let drain until the desired texture, about 15 minutes for soft ricotta, 20 minutes for firm and creamy and 30 minutes for firm and slightly dry. For soft ricotta, serve warm or chilled in a small decorative bowl. For firm ricottas, gather the excess cheesecloth and shape the ricotta into a ball or disc and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
Serve the ricotta with your favorite things, like a drizzle of honey and cracked black pepper, fresh or dried fruit, fruit preserves, crackers or fresh bread.
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