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
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil*
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt to taste, if needed
For the Herb Crust
- 1/4 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.