Still gooey, still creamy, still shiny—a stark contrast to the plastic-like cheese sauce they serve at Shake Shack (surely their poorest offering). My goal: to create a cheese sauce with the melty, gooey, spreadable dippability of Fuddruckers sauce, but with the complex flavor of real cheese.
Milk Fat In solid cheese is suspended in the form of microscopic globules kept suspended in a tight matrix of protein micelles (more on those in a second).
Anyone whose ever tried to make an aged cheese can tell you that it's all about delicately balancing ingredients ratios, timing, and temperature.
First, at around 90°F, the milk fat melts, which makes the cheese more supple, and often brings little beads of melted fat to the surface. To get a cheesy sauce that's shiny and smooth, and not greasy nor stringy, the key is to discover a way in which to keep the fat globules from separating out and pooling, adding moisture to thin the texture out a bit, and figuring out a way to keep the proteins from breaking apart and rejoining into long strands. For clues on how to keep cheese melty, I turned towards Kraft's Velveeta—the undisputed king of creamy goo*. I know that sodium alginate, by thickening the liquid in the cheese, acts to prevent fat globules from coalescing, and individual proteins from sticking together too easily. Cream cheese is a fresh cheese product with a relatively high fat content kept stable with the addition of guar and carob gums. I made a few more batches of cheese sauce, one with cream cheese added, one with evaporated milk, and one with mayonnaise, adjusting the consistency as needed with a bit of whole milk (the evaporated milk version didn't need any extra milk). Not quite as greasy as straight up cheese, but the cheese proteins still seized up and locked together into a stringy, gloppy, inedible mess. The bechamel-based sauce also had the same problem that bechamel sauces always have: No matter how well they are made, there is still a faint graininess to them and a distinct flavor that may be appropriate in a lasagna or a Hot Brown Sandwich, but not for fry-cheese. Each one managed to come together into a relatively smooth, glossy sauce, though none of them were quite as smooth as I'd like them to be—you still noticed a distinct protein clumps.


Starches have no chemical effect on the way sauces come together, but can help hold emulsions more stable through different means.
In the end I decided to stick with the evaporated milk, as it allowed for more flavor control (to get the cream cheese to work, I had to add a significant amount of it, which ended up lending its own distinct flavor to the sauce). I let one cup of the Fudd's sauce sit on the table while we enjoyed our burgers (their burgers are shockingly good), then retested for consistency by pouring it over my fries. Young cheese like Jack, young cheddars, or mozzarella have a relatively high water content—up to 80 percent.
Salt can have a profound effect on the texture of the cheese—saltier cheeses have had more moisture drawn out of the curd before being pressed, so tend to be drier and firmer.
First, the liquefied fat will come together into greasy pools and separate from the water and proteins. First of all, milk and water play a large part in its makeup, indicating that its moisture content is higher than that of straight cheese. Although it's high fat, my thought was that adding it to my melted cheddar would provide enough stabilizing gums to keep the cheddar itself from separating. As a control, I also made one sauce melting the cheese in just plain milk, as well as one sauce which I made mornay-style: first forming a flour, butter, and milk bechamel then adding my cheese to it. First, they absorb water and expand, thickening the liquid phase of the sauce (the same way gums do).
I found that the easiest way to incorporate the corn starch was to simply toss it with the grated cheese. Just pair this sauce up with our Perfect Thin and Crispy French Fries and Chili for Chili Fries.
Because of this, and because of their suspension, they don't come into contact with each other to form larger globules: cheeses stay creamy or crumbly, instead of greasy.


Other flavorful compounds present in cheese are mostly intentional byproducts of bacteria and aging. Both sauces completely lost their flow structure, instead turning grainy and broken, like semi-dry concrete. But more importantly, starches are like the bouncers of the sauce world: They're bulky, and physically impede proteins and fats from coming together and coalescing. This time, even when allowed to cool completely, the sauce stayed silky, glossy, and dippably good. That way, when I added the cheese to the pot, the cornstarch was already dispersed enough that it couldn't form annoying clumps.
Famous hard cheese, like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano may be as little as 30 percent water after several years of aging. These micelles link together into long chains, forming a matrix that gives the cheese structure.
Well, it's well known that cheese that have a higher protein-to-fat ratio are much better at melting. Low fat, high moisture, high protein mozzarella, for example, turns into a stretchy goo with almost no help at all—you have to heat it significantly before its fat separates out.
The lecithin acts as a sort of liaison between the milk fats and the liquid, keeping them in relatively stable harmony.



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