Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cashew Cream Cheese

There was a time when a bagel and cream cheese was my absolute favorite breakfast. Not my normal breakfast, mind you, but my favorite. Like a weekend breakfast, at a corner coffee shop in Philly. I'd have a big, frothy mochaccino, everything bagel and scallion cream cheese. There was one place that put the cream cheese on the bagel in these big giant slabs that had to be about two inches thick. That is a breakfast that I have not enjoyed in several years. It's not so much that it doesn't sound good to me anymore. In fact, my tastebuds are tingling as I write this. But when I think about it a little more, I start to feel like I need a nap. Suddenly I feel really full, bloated...then I start feeling sleepy. Groggy, yeah, mega carbo/animal fat energy zap. That's it.

My point? I'm thirty-three now. Big old cream cheesy slabby bagels just don't get eaten and unnoticed by my body like they used to. I would love, love, love to sit down this weekend for the exact meal I've described above, but I'm just not into the consequences. Fortunately, I'm beginning to discover ways of working around those consequences. Starting here.



So what's a (thirty-three year old, trying to be healthy) girl to do? Just what I've been doing: create something void of all those no-no ingredients and so delicious that I'll never look back. And what did I do? Well, for this post I created a super delicious cashew-based, dairy free cream cheese. What I did not do was put it on a bagel. I still have some work to do in order to get around that heavy, carbohydrate bomb of an issue. (If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.) That's all fine though, because I tested this vegan delight out on (1) fresh veggies, (2) rice crackers, and (3) a whole wheat wrap with fresh veggies, mimicking an old favorite I used to get at bagel shops. All were delicious.

I'll certainly keep you posted on my progress in replacing the bagel. And as for the mochaccino, well that part is easy peasy. Stay tuned.


You can stir any kind of appropriate cream cheese flavoring in here. I went for scallions, because, as noted above, those were always my favorite. I see no reason not to try sundried tomatoes, fresh fruit like peaches and strawberries, fresh garlic, finely diced raw veggies...I could go on and on. I'll let you know if I can manage to tear myself away from the scallions and try another variety. Please do the same for me. Deal?


Cashew Cream Cheese


Note: This recipe yields about a cup. If you're using a larger sized blender or food processor, you might want to make a larger batch to ensure that the ingredients fill up the bowl or blender sufficiently for adequate blending. Since this will yield a pretty large batch, I'm planning to experiment with freezing this for long term storage. I'll update you guys on how this works as soon as I can!

1 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Optional: your favorite cream cheese flavorings (I used 2 chopped scallions)

Soak cashews in water for at least 4 and up to 8 hours. Drain and blend in high speed blender or food processor until smooth. This might take a few minutes.



Add in remaining ingredients and continue to blend until everything is well mixed. Remove from blender or food processor and stir in your flavoring(s), if using.

 

43 comments:

  1. Oh I am so excited to try this! We have been looking for an alternative to cream cheese, Thanks!!

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    1. Wonderful! Cream cheese is a tough one to give up. I think you will really enjoy this version!

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    2. I love your cream cheese. I made some minor alterations though. Instead of the oil I used 1/4 cup of plain almond yogurt. I also used less lemon juice. It tastes so good that I dug out my driveway (three inches of snow overnight) and picked up some bagels at Einstein's!

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    3. Thank you! The almond yogurt variation sounds very interesting - I never even thought about using yogurt. I bet it makes it really nice and creamy. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time!

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  2. Have you made a cashew cream sauce to replace alfredo sauce? I resisted for a long time because all the recipes I saw had a long soak time (overnight, anyway. That's way advanced planning for me). I finally came across one that didn't, recreated it, and loved it: http://goo.gl/zVHQOv

    My point here, I guess, is I'm wondering whether you think the long soak time is critical?

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    1. I've actually never tried any cashew cream based recipes without soaking, because every one I've ever come across does require soaking. I've also always thought that it depends on what type of food processor/blender you're using (basic Hamilton Beech food processor here). Thanks for the link to your recipe. It sounds delicious and I'll definitely try it out. If I can do alfredo sauce without soaking I can't see why cream cheese wouldn't work as well. I'll try to post an update on my findings!

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    2. Soaking softens them, making them easier to process.

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    3. I've read that boiling them for an hour will have the same result as overnight soaking.

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  3. Hi Alissa! How long do you estimate that this would keep in the fridge? Providing I don't scarf it all down at once, that is. ;)

    Thanks -- just found your blog today and looking forward to going back through the archives!

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    1. Hi Annie! The longest I've kept this around is about four days and it held up just fine. I'd have to guess and say about one week max, based on my experience with the shelf life of cashew milk. If you're unsure I think the smell test should tell you if it's still good, as this is always a good indication with nut milks.

      Thanks so much for checking out the blog - hope you enjoy everything!!

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    2. Thank you for that helpful response! Will have to give it a shot this weekend :)

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  4. You can easily find recipes for raw vegan onion bread (which is easier with a dehydrator, but can be done in the oven). It's wonderful (and healthy) with cashew cream cheese!

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    1. I like that idea a lot. I actually just got a dehydrator recently but haven't had much chance to play around with it yet. Might make that my first project with it :)

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  5. Gorgeous! Nothing gets me going more than a big vat of creamy cashew cheese. It almost seems like there's nothing that cashews can't do!

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    1. Thank you!!! And totally agreed - cashews have quickly become one of my favorite ingredients to play around in the kitchen with!

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  6. I cannot eat canola oil..can olive or grape seed oil be used instead?

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    1. Absolutely! I picked canola because of its accessibility and neutral flavor, but you could sub lots of different oils in this recipe. In your case I'd say grape seed is probably the better choice because the flavor is milder than olive.

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    2. Can you leave the oil out all together?

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    3. You could, but before I added the oil it was a bit thick and grainy for my taste. I'd say give it a shot without the oil, see what you think, and then add the oil if you think it needs some thinning/smoothing out.

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    4. You can grind the cashews in a seed/coffee grinder then blend with your liquid. That way you don't have to soak before hand.

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    1. Then my job is done! Thank you and enjoy :)

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  8. Thanks!
    I'm tryibg to find unexpensive, common ingredients I can find in a market around the world, the more unprocessed the better.

    - Why canola and not olive oil?
    - Any substitute for cashews? Almonds, palm hearts, toffu, garbanzos, other beans?
    - What's the use of yeast flakes? How can we substitute it?

    Thanks!

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    1. You're welcome!

      I used canola oil because the flavor is pretty neutral. You could go with olive oil but it might change the flavor a bit.

      As far as the cashews are concerned, I can't really suggest any substitutions without doing some further recipe development. Cashews work well because they have a neutral flavor and blend up nice and creamy.

      The nutritional yeast flakes give the recipe a cheesy flavor. Cream cheese is generally pretty mild, so I only used a tiny bit here. For that reason, you could probably get away with omitting this ingredient, but your batch might turn out a little bland. If you want to try kicking up the flavor with other ingredients maybe add a pinch or two of onion or garlic powder - totally different flavors, but still pretty tasty.

      Any significant deviation from the recipe is probably going to require some trial and error. Good luck if you give it a shot, and I hope my responses are helpful!

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  9. This is really good, thank you so much! I'm having this on a KinnickKinnick GF bagel right now with coffee (with coconut milk) and it's quite realistic. I haven't had a bagel and cream cheese in so long it's not funny. What I really like about this is it's so quick as long as you've soaked the cashews. I soaked them yesterday, drained and refrigerated them overnight, then made this with my stick blender this morning. I added granulated garlic and dill, and I accidentally dumped in the nutritional yeast, but it's still really good. I also eyeballed everything. I will definitely make this again.

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  10. I used about a tsp of ghee instead of canola oil, btw.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your results! Garlic and dill sounds like a delicious way to flavor this - I'm going to have to remember that for next time. Good to know that ghee works as well, as I've had a few people asking about substitutions for the canola oil. So glad you enjoyed this!

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    2. Keep in mind, if you use ghee, which is clarified butter, the recipe is no longer vegan, but still much better for you than regular cream cheese.

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    3. Absolutely - and thank you for pointing that out! Probably a good substitute for non-vegans just looking to cut back on dairy.

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  11. I am so excited to find this substitute for dairy cream cheese because my husband has developed allergies to all dairy and eggs so it really had decreased our food options!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your husband's allergies but glad that this recipe can be of some help! I hope you both enjoy it!!

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  12. Hi!
    Sounds delicious, unfortunately, I'm allergic to cashews :((
    Let us know, if you ever think of any substitute for that :)

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    1. Thank you, and I'm sorry to hear that you're allergic! I'm planning on doing lots more experimentation with vegan cheeses and will definitely post if I'm able to come up with a recipe using something other than cashews!

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  13. Is there a vegan form of ghee?

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    1. Ghee is butter that has been clarified by simmering. As far as I know, this reaction is unique to butter. (If anyone knows different, please let me know!)

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  14. I recently made something similar and it was exceptional. Unlike dairy products this is hearty and fulfilling. It was made with basic ingredients including garlic, lemon juice, sea salt and some black pepper. Came out wonderfully.

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    1. Yes! I love how satisfying this is, without being heavy like dairy!

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  15. This sounds great as a spread, but can you bake with it, as in a cheesecake recipe?

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    1. You probably could, but I'm not sure if directly subbing this for cream cheese in any cheesecake recipe would work (I just made a note to give that a shot though). To be on the safe side, you're better off following a recipe that was developed around using raw cashews. I have a very simple one that you could try out:

      http://www.connoisseurusveg.com/2013/06/super-easy-vegan-raspberry-chocolate.html

      If you want to try something a bit more involved, here's another great recipe that I tried out a while back and had awesome results with:

      http://chowvegan.com/2012/01/08/heavenly-cheesecake-from-vegan-pie-in-the-sky/

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  16. Hey Alissa!

    I've tried Cashew Cream Cheese at one of my favorite vegan restaurants and wanted to try to make it myself. Just as a FYI, I just tried this exact recipe in my short Vitamix 750 blender and it didn't have enough ingredients inside of the blender for it to really blend so it ended up being super duper chunky. So just as a warning to you Vitamix users with short containers, be sure to double the recipe or this really won't blend =/

    Will have to soak 2x the cashews next time and give this another try. Thanks for posting!

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    1. Hi Shelly! Thank you! I've been using the food processor function of a Ninja to make this, and the bowl is rather small so I didn't even think of that being a problem. I appreciate your feedback and I just updated the post to include a note on batch size, so hopefully this doesn't happen to anyone else. Thanks again!

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  17. I soaked for about 2 hours, doubled the batch and used my handheld blender and substituted canola with coconut oil, added water to smooth it out…. no yeast…. YUM!… can't wait to try it in my wraps for lunch… and add different flavours! THANKYOU for such an easy recipe to introduce me to nut cream :))

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    1. Yay! You're welcome and I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your results - the two hour soak time is good to know. I've had a few people comment/ask about shorter soak times but I've yet to do any experimenting with it myself.

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