This smokey vegan cheddar cheese wheel is covered in a savory herb crust and made with a deliciously spreadable base of creamy cashews and pumpkin!
As the title suggests, this cheese has a lot going on. But also, as I confirmed with my family over the Thanksgiving holiday, this vegan cheese has got it going on.
Most notably going on here: pumpkin! Not that the flavor is super-pumpkiny, but pumpkin isn't normally a thing you'd find in vegan cheese.
Here's the funny thing though: I made this way back in mid-October and froze it for Thanksgiving. Then, when I served it as a pre-Thanksgiving dinner appetizer, my family, who loved it, quizzed me on what was in it, and I totally forgot about the whole pumpkin thing. I was all, "Oh, just the usual, some cashews, nutritional yeast...that kind of stuff." It was definitely smoother and more orange than normal though, and I couldn't figure out why! Then when I went to write this post, I referred to my trusty kitchen notebook, and there it was -- pumpkin!
The other thing that's different, though not so different for me, is the smoky flavor. (Here's my other use of smoky vegan cheese on this site.)
I got it in my head that I needed to make a smoky vegan cheddar. At some point a few years back I had a regular old smoked cheddar and loved it, but since I gave up regular old cheese shortly after that, I haven't had a chance to enjoy it. I'm also really into the whole flavoring up my food with liquid smoke thing. A lot. I'm sure you've noticed. (No apologies!)
So smoky vegan cheddar it was, and since the end-of-year holidays are just about upon us, I decided to get all festive with some herbs, which were delicious, even if I'm not the most skilled of herb-crusters. (I dressed up the wheel a lot for the pics. In real life it wasn't quite as pretty.)
Since Thanksgiving is over, maybe you can make it for the end-of-year holidays. It's perfect Christmas/New Year's material — savory, creamy, (potentially) nice to look at, and perfectly spreadable on a cracker. What this is not, is sliceable. Maybe someday I'll work on a sliceable vegan cheese recipe, but for now, I find the spreadable variety just as delicious, while requiring less fuss.
Herb-Crusted Smoky Pumpkin Vegan Cheddar Wheel
For the Vegan Cheddar Wheel
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
- ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup melted coconut oil*
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Salt to taste, if needed
For the Herb Crust
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
To make the vegan cheddar wheel, place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl as needed. Season the mixture with salt to taste.
Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and then transfer cashew mixture to the cake pan, spreading it out evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator until set (about 4 hours). It should be a bit firmer than your typical cream cheese.
While the cheese wheel chills, combine the herbs in a small bowl.
Invert the cheese wheel onto a dish and remove parchment paper. Press herbs onto the surface. Serve with bread or crackers.
I used unrefined coconut oil, and the coconut flavor was very subtle -- nobody could detect it until I pointed it out. If you want to avoid the coconut flavor altogether, use a refined coconut oil.