One of the hardest things for me to give up once I became vegan was cheese. My world became a better place when I discovered cashew cream.
In 2009 I learned that I was lactose intolerant, and I fought it! I took those little white pills, when I remembered to take them, and I dealt with many stomach and digestion issues.
I gave up milk. I never really drank milk but I did like it in my breakfast cereal. I found Soy Milk a simple nice tasting substitute. Sour cream and cream cheese were easy, because I never really liked them anyway. Yogurt was a quick switch to a coconut version.
Cheese, was seriously hard to stop. It was my kryptonite. I finally left cheese behind for good in 2013.
Down the rabbit hole I tumbled until I bumped into cashew cream and ultimately cashew cheese.
This blog is not about cheese making; I will address that in another post.
For this effort I’m going to gush on my love for cashew cream. It’s an amazing concoction and can be both savory or sweet. It’s a great alternative for those trying to cut down on dairy, and it’s a healthy fat.**
There are only two ingredients in cashew cream, cashews and water. You can add other ingredients to make it sweet or savory. It’s best to start with whole, raw cashews. I prefer organic when I can get them.
Let’s start with 1 cup of cashews. It’s best to soak your cashews overnight but if you are like me, you forget. That’s fine, just boil some water, pour it over your cashews and let it soak for 30 minutes or more. You can also boil them in water for 10 – 15 minutes. The goal here is to get them as soft as possible so they blend to a smooth paste. Once they are soaked, rinse and drain them. Place the cashews in your blender/food processor (a high speed one works best) with 1/2 -3/4 cup of filtered water. Personally, I put the cashews in the blender and add just enough water to cover them. This works with any amount of cashews you soak so you don’t have to measure anything. You can always add more water later, if you want it thinner. Also remember you will be adding other liquids to flavor your cream. It’s best to error on the side of caution and keep it thick.
Too much water is like getting your bangs cut too short. The major difference is that time will fix your bangs, it will not however fix your cashew cream. Just don’t do it.
Blend the water and cashews until they are smooth, no grit! If you want a savory cream add:
half the juice of a lemon (about 1 tbs)
1/2 tsp vinegar (apple cider and Ume plum work well)
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste.
If you stop here you have a cream that tastes a bit like sour cream. If you want more flavor, blend in:
1 garlic clove or to taste
1 tbs minced red or green onion or to taste
*Note* You could use granulated garlic and onion, but I prefer the taste of fresh.
YUM! If want it to be a cheezy sauce, add 1 tbs of nutritional yeast or more to taste. Blend everything until you have a super smooth texture. Taste, you may need a pinch more salt.
If you want to make it sweet all you need to add is:
2-3 Tbs of maple syrup or agave. If you want to flavor it a little more, add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract or even orange or lemon extract. You can also add 1 Tbs of berries. Another variation would be to add a tablespoon of coconut cream or coconut yogurt. Thin it out and add powdered sugar for whipped cream.
I adore cashew cream. You can take it to any level and use it as a substitute for ricotta in lasagne or even create a cheese cake with it. The versatility of this luscious cream is worth some experimentation. You can use different vinegars and acids to make it your own. If you like things spicy, consider adding horseradish, wasabi or my personal favorite, sriracha. Chill it, add fruit, granola, maybe some chia seeds and you have a great breakfast or snack.
It’s a great base for so many applications. I make it a bit thicker (use less water) and drop dollops of it on my pizza, in my calzone or stir it into pasta. I’ve been known to eat it off a spoon, a cracker, or maybe even a finger. It is just that good!
I urge you to play around with this simple recipe. The possibilities are endlessly delicious.
**Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts. About 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids. 66% of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. These are similar to the fats found in olive oil.