Those who know me food wise, know that I’m fascinated by recipes where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. From flour and water, we can achieve a naturally risen sourdough or a multitude of flat-breads. Depending on whether you use iced water or boiling, you can create delicate little dumpling wrappers or the chewiness of Peking pancakes. It’s like turning water into wine, right?
I think it’s much the same with many soft cheeses, in that it starts with milk and rennet, but depending on the temperature and application, you come out with vastly different results. Haloumi is a firm favourite in our house, as is ricotta, labne and a few others that are relatively simple to make in the Thermomix. One of the things I’ve wanted to make for a long time is mozzarella and bocconcini, and a recent episode of a popular cooking show reignited this interest.
I’ve been busy, so cooking has taken a back seat. Finding myself with a rare day off, I decided to treat myself to a day in the kitchen to create these little balls of marvellous. They were much easier than I anticipated and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try making them before now. Their flavour is far superior to the yellow plastic balls you’ll purchase in the supermarket!
- 2 litres of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon citric acid
- 1 teaspoon liquid rennet or half a junket tablet
- 1 teaspoon non-iodised salt*
Pour 2000ml of milk into the Thermomix bowl.
Mix 1 teaspoon of citric acid into 1 tablespoon of cool water. The citric acid has dissolved properly once the water turns clear. Add to milk and stir through with a long spatula.
Bring milk to 37c at speed 1. You’ll have to keep your eye on the temperature lights, but my room temperature milk took about 5 minutes. Once the 37c green light stops flashing, you know you’ve hit your temperature.
Add 1 teaspoon of liquid rennet. If you don’t have rennet, you could use half a junket tablet dissolved in 1 tablespoon of warm water. Stir for 2 seconds on speed 3.
Pour milk mixture into a warmed Thermoserver. Cover and leave undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, cut into your curds horizontally and then vertically. You want to try and cut your curd into 3 centimetre squares. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Carefully tip your curds and whey back into the Thermomix bowl. Cook for 40 minutes/37c/gentle stir mode.
Line your Thermomix strainer with a damp cheesecloth or a wet, new chux wipe and strain your curds over a large bowl. Drain for about 15 minutes. You might want to help the draining process along as you want to drain as much whey from the curd as possible. Reserve your whey if you’re going to store your cheese for more than a day. Actually, reserve your whey because it’s fantastic in baking. My blog buddy Karen found some fabulous ways to use all that whey over at Farm Curious.
Return your thoroughly drained curd to the Thermomix bowl. It’s going to look crumbly at this stage, but that’s okay. Add half a teaspoon of finely ground non-iodized salt* and knead for 1 minute. Remove curd from the bowl.
Now here comes the fun part. It’s the stretching that gives mozzarella that mozzarella-ey texture. First you need to heat the mozzarella, so channel your inner-yogi and put your pretend asbestos gloves on, because this is going to get a little ‘heated’.
Microwave method: Place your curd into a medium-sized microwave proof bowl and cook on high for 40-60 seconds.
Thermomix method: Place your curd into a small heatproof bowl that will fit inside the strainer. Place enough whey or water to cover the blades. Place the strainer with the bowl of curd into the Thermomix bowl and cook on varoma/speed 1 for 4-5 minutes. Leave the MC off because you’re trying to avoid water condensing into your drained curd. Tip your curd into a larger bowl for you to work with. WARNING! The bowl is going to be very hot and it’s a little awkward to remove from the strainer, so be very careful!
To be honest, I prefer the microwave method, but I know lots of people prefer not to nuke their food.
Anyway, back to the fun stuff.
Using a flexible spatula, beat and stir your cheese until it comes together into a ball.
Once you’ve stirred your curd into a smooth mass, carefully stretch your mozzarella before folding it back onto itself. I reheated the cheese twice until I felt I’d created a smooth, glossy ball of mozzarella. Place your mozzarella into a rounded bowl and set in the fridge to cool.
To make bocconcini, pinch out little balls of the stuff. Egg sized is the size of traditional bocconcini, while grape size is baby bocconcini. If you don’t work fast enough, you may have to reheat your cheese halfway through. Pop your little bocconcini balls into a tub of cold, reserved whey.
You can either store your mozzarella wrapped in the refrigerator, or you can store it in the cooled reserved whey (refrigerated of course).
* I used a pink Himalayan rock salt that I blitzed down to an icing sugar consistency so it would incorporate a little easier.