I don’t declare to be an important authority on bagels. I wasn’t even conscious they existed till I moved from Aberdeen, Mississippi to Los Angeles on the tender age of six. I’m additionally not a lot of a baker, even with an excellent recipe, so I have a tendency to simply accept no matter New Yorkers inform me in the case of these boiled-then-baked rings of bread.
So once I noticed this TikTok from @brooklynbagelblog, I instantly believed its claims.
In line with the video, the “secret” to New York deli-style cream cheese is, as they are saying, in “da watah.” Seltzer water, to be actual. The video reveals a pair of gloved fingers splashing seltzer right into a pile of cream cheese (and some different inclusions), whereas the voice of the Brooklyn Bagel Blogger explains how, “Canada Dry helps whip arduous cream cheese right into a easy, creamy texture,” and that they “persistently see it at the back of all the most effective bagel retailers.”
And whereas Canada Dry is technically a membership soda, not a pure seltzer, it’s nonetheless carbonated water, and it seems to get the job achieved. Whereas the TikTok doesn’t elaborate on why seltzer is ready to rework chilly, arduous cream cheese right into a fluffy, nearly shiny unfold—and and not using a stand mixer or another specialised tools!—I can guess the logic behind it: You’re including moisture and carbonation, which (in idea) softens and aerates the cream cheese.
A splash of seltzer actually will rework your cream cheese
To check this hack, I took a chilly block of cream cheese out of my fridge, unwrapped it, gave the wrapper to my canine for her to lick, and positioned the block of cream cheese in a giant bowl. I roughed it up with a giant serving fork, then added a teaspoon of seltzer and labored it in with that very same fork. The cream cheese instantly bought just a little softer—which is sensible, as a result of smashing a substance that has a excessive fats content material with a fork or different implement will warmth the fats by friction—but it surely additionally bought just a little glossier and fluffier. I added three extra teaspoons of seltzer, this time stirring with a silicone spatula after every addition. Then I stirred in some thinly-slice scallions. In the long run, I used to be left with a fluffy, gentle pile of cream cheese that seemed, tasted, and acted identical to a deli-style schmear.
However then the pedantic a part of my mind began making noise: Would this work with plain water? Is the carbonation actually crucial?
Waiter, there’s carbon dioxide in my cream cheese
Carbonation is measured in “volumes,” and carbonated water often falls within the vary of 3-4 volumes of CO₂ per quantity of liquid. (That implies that for each milliliter of water, there are 3-4 milliliters of dissolved carbon dioxide.) Once I added one tablespoon of membership soda to the cream cheese, I used to be additionally including someplace round 3-4 tablespoons of carbon dioxide.
Becoming a bigger quantity of gasoline right into a smaller quantity of liquid might sound bodily inconceivable, however the quantity of gasoline you possibly can infuse right into a liquid relies on temperature and stress. The quantity of the gasoline refers back to the quantity of area it might take up below customary temperature (32° F) and stress (one environment), each of that are manipulated throughout carbonation.
Even nonetheless, you begin to lose carbonation the second you open the bottle, and also you lose just a little extra with every little bit of manipulation, from pouring to stirring (that’s what fizzing is—carbon dioxide escaping). So there’s actually no approach for me to inform precisely how a lot CO₂ is making it into the cream cheese, no less than not in my kitchen. It doesn’t actually matter although; I’m much less involved with the microscopic goings on and extra involved with the noticeable macroscopic results.
Plain water works nearly in addition to carbonated
I repeated the above tune and dance with a brand new block of cream cheese, solely this time I used plain faucet water as a substitute of Canada Dry membership soda. I added a tablespoon of water to a chilly block of cream cheese, a teaspoon at a time, in addition to some sliced scallions, and the cream cheese was softer and creamier once I was achieved.
I tasted the 2 cream cheese aspect by aspect, every on their very own bagel half, and every on a pretzel cracker (an underrated cracker). Visually, there was no distinction, however not so when it got here to the style and texture.
Had I achieved simply plain water and stopped there, I’d have been thrilled: The additional moisture, paired with the blending and stirring, actually gave the block of cheese a creamier texture, however the cream cheese combined with seltzer was only a tad fluffier and smoother. The plain water cream cheese was additionally a smidge denser, however once more, the variations have been slight, and (I think) will solely be noticeable in case you’re in search of them.
The underside line: The trick actually does work. Including a tablespoon (or extra) of seltzer to a block of cream cheese is a simple method to fluff it up and make it additional luscious and creamy. For those who don’t have any seltzer, plain water can assist, however the bubbles do appear so as to add an additional little one thing. (That one thing is gasoline, and on this case, gasoline is nice.)