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I recently visited Colombia in South America and I'm trying to recreate one of their traditional delicacies.

They give you a lovely thick cup of hot chocolate and together with a few slices of cheese. The idea is you break up the cheese and put it into your hot chocolate. The cheese melts partially and you can then eat it with a spoon.

It sounds quite strange, but actually tasted great.

My question is, that I'd like to try to find the same cheese to make it (in the UK). I've heard that mozzarella is the closest, but it doesn't melt in the same way.

The only Colombian cheese I have found is called Queso Compasigna, which means country/rustic cheese). I believe they have another type of cheese, specifically for dipping in hot chocolate. I'd like to know what cheese it is, possible where to buy it or if not how to make it?

Any ideas if its made with cows or goats milk or what sort of manufacturing process it uses?

  • After a bit more investigation, it may be called "Queso Blanco", but the cheese need should melt when placed in hot things, but not sure this one does... – peter.swallow Jan 28 '13 at 13:03
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Queso Blanco just means "White Cheese", which is kind of a catch-all term many locals use for simple cheeses. What is meant by Queso Blanco will likely change from region to region even within Columbia, and the chances of you being able to find it in the UK are pretty unlikely. Most imported Spanish cheeses tend to be the high-quality, specialist ones.

You haven't put what the cheese actually tastes like in your post, so I am assuming it was most likely pretty mild and it is the texture of it that really floated your boat. When I think soft, mild cheese I usually think cows milk, not sheep or goat, although there may be non-cheese alternatives as well in the following list:

  • Panir may work for you, it's soft and will get softer, also pretty mild flavor
  • Tofu: ok, not cheese but texture-wise a soft tofu may work great, and the flavor will work with chocolate pretty well.
  • UK white cheese: any major UK supermarket has a white cheese on sale, usually cheap, usually flavorless. Could be worth a try
  • Curd cheese: this is probably what would be called cottage cheese in the US. It's pretty liquid but if you drained it and compacted it you'd get a crumbly, easy-melting cheese

Let us know how you get on, I'm dying of curiosity!

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    Rather than "curd cheese" (e.g. cottage cheese), it might actually be cheese curds. We put these in poutine here and, much like the description in the question, they melt partially but not all the way when exposed to hot gravy. – Aaronut Jan 28 '13 at 13:43
  • Good stuff Poutine, it'll take a year of your life away because of the cholesterol, but it's worth it. I've never seen cheese curds in the UK though, not in the US/Canadian sense, they just aren't on the market. – GdD Jan 28 '13 at 13:46
  • Great suggestions...!I can't exactly remember what the cheese was like, other than it was quite mild. Someone else mentioned it might be called "Queso doble crema", which is again fairly general translating as double cream cheese...not sure what the closest cheese would be to that...? – peter.swallow Jan 28 '13 at 14:13
  • Ah, this is the Colombian version: alpina.com.co/productos/queso-doble-crema Know I just need a recipe how to make this... – peter.swallow Jan 28 '13 at 14:51
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    I'm colombian, and yes, Queso Doble Crema is the one. :) – user17778 Apr 11 '13 at 2:15
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I am Colombian, we make this every Saturday morning in the States. Just use fresh mozzarella, as this is what we often use in Colombia! Another good one is fresh queso blanco like what is used in Mexican food. Good luck! P.S. For an authentic Colombian breakfast make arepas!

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My mother is Colombian, but has spent the last 30 years of her life in rural Pennsylvania USA. She prepares traditional Colombian chocolate in a aluminum "chocolatera" with a molinillo. This is her method:

She first brings about 2 cups (about 8 - 10 oz) of water to a boil, with about 3-4 bars of Colombian chocolate bars (Sol, Luke...) and 1-2 cinnamon sticks. As the mixture works up to a boil, with both hands she vigorously spins her molinillo inside the chocolatera. Once it boils, she adds 2 cups of milk. She continues to vigorously rotate the wooden molinillo to make good froth. When the mixture comes to a boil a second time and the froth nearly rises to the top of the chocolatera, she immediately shuts off the flames (or removes the pot from the heat). Then she returns it to the heat two more times to let the froth rise with the boil. It will do so almost immediately upon returning the pot to the heat so pay attention. This makes for a superior froth. After the third boil/froth rise, turn off the heat and let the chocolate cool for 5 minutes or so.

As for the cheese part of your question: Pour your chocolate into the mugs. Add 4-5 pieces of muenster cheese diced into square centimeters to the mugs. Enjoy it with toasted bread. I like Italian or a slightly sweet bread like challah. Viva Colombia!

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My parents were both born in Bogota and my mother always used (and I continue to use) Muenster cheese. I don't know if this equates to the traditional "Queso Blanco" used in Colombia but I like it and have never tried any of the other cheeses mentioned.

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I am Colombian also and we love this! We always use munster cheese my grandparents are particular about their hot chocolate but say this is the closest to being in Colombia. It's amazing tasting.

Enjoy!

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The best cheese to use is not "queso de papa", like somebody said, is "Queso Pera" (pear cheese) that is really a "double cream" cheese. I found it in the US in mexican markets or some grocery stores labeled as "Queso Oaxaca". A close one will be a "real Mozzarella" in the deli section found as a "ball" or a "braid" or second option Muenster. One piece of advise, drink it fresh, reheated chocolate may be too heavy on the stomach (that was my grandma used to say and you know, Grandma knows!)

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The fact that your cheese was labeled as double cream cheese is interesting - it makes me picture a cheese that's very soft and fatty, like a double cream brie or similar, or else actual cream cheese (in the a-bagel-and sense). I don't think these kinds of cheeses slice particularly well, so it may not be the same as what you tried or I may be off in my interpretation - but imagining either of them in the flavor pairing makes me go interesting and wanna-try-it.

And you might consider manually adjusting (ie, a dollop of cream cheese plus some curd cheese, or else plus some stronger saltier cheese to balance it out, sounds like a really good approximation for a very rich cheese melty about the edges)

Also, despite your reservations you probably can use Queso Blanco if you find it (irrespective of it possibly not being labeled "Columbian"). Or you can try the Queso Compasigna you mentioned finding. Other names to keep an eye out for are Oaxaca cheese or Chihuahua cheese - they are all generally mild melty white cheese, but specific branding may vary by location, marketing, and other factors.

Queso Blanco is a generic name, for a generic cheese - and it is true that it can come in a variety of styles and methods. However, I usually find it is functionally a melting cheese - that style suits the young, mild flavor and generic name, and it is generally acceptable for the uses it is intended for. I have seen something with that name that was a frying cheese, but even then it was labeled as such - and even frying cheese softens and melts a little with heat, so it might not do terribly in your hot chocolate.

If you none of those appeal, then some mild young melting cheese will probably do. A couple other answers have mentioned muenster, which is nice, or fresh mozzerella - which is stored in liquid, and melts in puddles, and is generally fundamentally different from the dried, aged stuff that can be sliced or shredded.

I also thought of using farmer's cheese, or hoop cheese - both names for a generic mild young cheese, which can have varying states of firmness vs meltiness (paneer vs cheese curds vs something with the texture (not the taste) of milf melty cheddar), but usually more developed brands get a unique name - this stuff is just young and mild. And really, any of it should be worth trying out, the flavor profile is pretty similar.

Depending on preference and availability, you might also consider other options like butterkase cheese, or jack cheese (like Monterey jack, but check young vs aged), maybe provolone if you want something a touch stronger in flavor, Havarti - especially unflavored ones, there are a lot of herbed or spiced versions, or even possibly a young gouda. None of these will be quite like your "queso doble crema", but they may be tasty in their own right, and worth trying either for local availability or for personal preference.

  • "Double cream" seems to be simply a vestige of cheese labelling systems from other parts of the world. It depends on how much fat was removed from (or added to) the milk before starting the cheese making process. So, the end product doesn't have to have any similarity to cream cheese, it can have a completely different (non creamy) texture. – rumtscho Dec 15 '16 at 12:48
  • @rumtscho - yes, I did mention that it doesn't seem to fit the description as given... but as far as I know, that kind of labeling usually means extra cream was added to the milk to make that cheese, and it is thus richer and fattier than a regular or skimmed milk version, even if the cheese isn't "creamy" per se. And, well, it sounds good even if it wasn't what was originally used, which is why I mentioned it at all. – Megha Dec 15 '16 at 22:01
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Queso DE papa in English it would be potato cheese

  • While it's translated as "potato cheese" I don't think that is a cheese commonly found in stores. Is there a close equivalent? Also, how is queso de papa made, etc. (which the OP also asked about) – Erica Jan 22 '16 at 11:53

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