Cashew Cream Cheese Base

Cashew Cream Cheese Base

Details

This "cream" cheese is so good that guests won't even notice that it's totally dairy-free.
  • Serves: 2 1/2 cups
  • Active Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 3 hrs
  • Views: 30,347
  • Success: 100%

Steps

Step 1: Soaking the Cashews

• 2 1/4 cups raw cashews

Method

Place the cashews into a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for a few hours, or overnight.

Step 2: Culturing the Cashew Mixture (Optional)

• 1 1/2 tsp powdered probiotic*
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Method

While this step is optional, culturing the cashews will add a nice tangy punch to the cream cheese. Alternatively, you can skip this step and just add the lemon juice.

*Note: Probiotic powder is available in the refrigerator section, of most health food stores or grocery stores that sell health foods.

To culture the cashews, blend together the soaked cashews, probiotic and water until you reach a really smooth consistency. Note that this is where a high-speed food processor is worth the investment. The higher the power, the smoother the outcome. A high-powered food processor will also mean that not as much water is needed, which will result in a thicker cream cheese. Scrape the sides and continue to pulse until smooth.

Place this mixture into a bowl and loosely cover with a piece of cheesecloth, or cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in it. Note: Reusable mesh produce bags also work well. These can be found in the produce aisle of many grocery stores.

Let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours to allow to culture.

Step 3: Making the Cashew Cream Cheese

• 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice*
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
• water, just enough to blend the cashews
• 1 tsp onion granules

Method

To make the cream cheese, either use the cultured cashew mixture from the previous step, or simply blend together the cashews, water and lemon juice until you reach a really smooth consistency.

Next, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine, if using. If you are using the cashew cream for something sweet, omit the nutritional yeast, salt and onion granules.

*Note: If using cultured cashews, you may not need any lemon juice. It depends on how much tang you want the cream cheese to have. Taste for seasoning, adding lemon juice and/or salt, if needed.

Feel free to experiment with the flavor profile of this cashew cream cheese—try adding a different spice mix and/or different aromatics.

Serve with bread or crackers, or use as you would any other flavorful cream cheese.

24 Comments

  • Bonnie D
    Bonnie D
    This is a nice spread! I could not find the probiotic powder for the first try of this recipe so made it anyway. I know what to buy next time i go to the health store. I can use probiotic powder from the capsules. I did not have any fresh chives so used fresh parsley and fresh dill and some shallots. It seems like a versatile recipe. I am happy to add it to my new plant based repertoire!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Nice work on your improvising Bonnie—indeed this recipe is very versatile and it lends it's well to many different spices and herbs. Cheers!
  • Liz S
    Liz S
    I am thrilled to see recipes for dairy free cream cheese and also sour cream. I went to a health food store to buy the probiotic powder and they literally had more than 40 bottles differing for children and adults and many different strengths and huge price differences as well. Is there one you use that you like or recommend? Also, is it too much to hope that I might be able to use this for making a cheesecake or is it meant to be used only as a spread? Cheers, Liz
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The probiotics that I have used in the past is just a powdered one that I bought in Whole Foods, in the health food section. I will ask our nutritionist to weigh in to see which one they think if best—stayed tuned. And as for making this into a cheesecake, you can definitely make a non-dairy cheesecake in this fashion. I am not sure if this exact recipe would work, but there are many recipes out there. For instance, this is Cashew Cheese Cake recipe that one of our staff made last week and they really liked it. I believe they made it lemony. Hope that helps Liz. Cheers!
  • Christina A
    Christina A
    You can use the probiotic capsules that you would find in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. There are many different kinds and they can be differentiated by their strengths. You will have a choice to purchase probiotic capsules that can come in 1 billion, 10 billion and even up to 50 billion per capsule. I would recommend buying a jar that contains 1 billion per capsule and adding about three capsules per 1 cup of cashew cheese. Your cashew "cheese" will be more tangy the higher the billion per capsule and the quicker your cashew "cheese" will culture . Hope that helps. Bon Appetit!
  • Liz S
    Liz S
    Thanks Dawn and Christina. That helps a lot and I will definitely be trying that cheesecake:) Liz
  • Dave
    Dave
    The thing I love about cooking the most is every once in awhile you run across a new flavor that you've never tasted before and it's so good it becomes part of your daily repertoire. This recipe is one of those! I had never used nutritional yeast before. It has just a nice cheesy flavor. I normally do have probiotics around the house but this particular week I was out of stock. However I used about 4 tablespoons of good quality sauerkraut instead to start the culturing process. Rouxbe chefs correct me if I'm mistaken but this should work just as well as a probiotic. After the culturing I put the nuts back into the food processor and added the remaining items. This allowed me to prepare the recipe to my tastes a bit more. I ended up adding lemon even though I cured the nuts and a few more pinches of salt. This was a really fun exercise. Link to the picture below. https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BEvjLDAj_9E/UnlUDCaQMPI/AAAAAAAAK10/Hnb1LAqN0mM/w482-h642-no/IMG_20131105_094232.jpg
  • Chad S Rouxbe Staff
    Chad S
    Thats great Dave. Nice work. Personally have never used sauerkraut juice as a cheese starter — I do not see any problem with doing so if you have a strong culture to start with. Typically you can also use rejuvelac, which is fermented wheat berry juice which works really well and is similar bacteria as kraut. Also, instead of blending all ingredients in after cultured, it is also great to just hand mix all herbs and spices to give those bursts of flavor. Nice work.
  • Dave
    Dave
    Thanks Chad I was also talking to Christophe on Helpouts last night. Great service by the way. He pointed out that it must be unpasteurized sauerkraut. So if it comes from a store in a jar or can it is probably pasteurized.
  • Chad S Rouxbe Staff
    Chad S
    My pleasure. Yes, for sure make sure if you are buying sauerkraut it is made fresh. Most in the chilled section of grocery are unpasteurized. In our soon to launched Plant-Based courses available early 2014 we will have some recipes on kraut making.
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    I'm thinking about trying a sweet version of the cashew cream for holiday pumpkin whoopie pies. How far in advance can I make and store the cashew cream? Will the probiotic flavor become stronger with longer refrigerator time? Does this cashew cream freeze well? Thank you
  • Chad S Rouxbe Staff
    Chad S
    Great question. If the cashew cheese is properly cultured then it will last 7-10 days when stored properly in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can make this recipe in advance and season and serve later in the week. Just note: the longer it sits the culture does get slightly stronger over the days but not a substantial difference. If you will be adding a sweetener to it, to ensure the consistency stays thick for whoopie pies or cheese cakes, then it is recommended to add a powdered sweetener such as coconut sugar, cane sugar, or maple sugar, ground fine to a powder, opposed to a liquid sweetener that will thin it out a bit. As for freezing, yes, a sweeter version does freeze well and does not change consistency once thawed out.
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    Thank you for your thoughtful answer. It's good to know that the sweeter versions freeze well. This will make my work far easier.
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    I made the savory version of the cashew cream and used it for an artichoke, crab and spinach dip for Thanksgiving as a heart healthy alternative to regular cream cheese. On it's own, you can definitely tell that it is a substitute, but the probiotics add a nice zesty tang, and when mixed with other components -- as in the dip I made -- it is hard to tell that the cashew cream was substituted. I also found that this version froze well. I had extra dip, so froze it and then used it about 1/2 weeks later for a second holiday party. It was great! Though not a vegan myself, I really appreciate having access to recipes database that contain healthy alternatives to traditional ingredients. It allows me to still make traditional favorites despite certain dietary restrictions of guests. Thank you
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Thanks so much for your feedback Rebecca. We appreciate knowing that you are finding the plant-based recipes valuable. Also, thanks for letting us know about freezing the cashew cream cheese. This is not something that I had done before, but it's good to know that it can be done. Cheers!
  • Divina C
    Divina C
    The food processor is so cool. I would like to have one when we can afford. For now, the Cuisinart that we just bought could work well not only for this but for many dishes as well.
  • Stephanie K
    Stephanie K
    I have chosen to use the probiotic culturing process. Do I still add the nutritional yeast at the end? I wasn't sure about how to proceed in the recipe after the culturing takes place. Thank you -
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Stephanie - Yes, you can certainly add the nutritional yeast to the product. It will not stop or alter the culturing process. Nutritional yeast is not active - so it does not create CO2/create leavening like regular yeast for bread making etc. ~Ken
  • Vicki B
    Vicki B
    How long will this last in the fridge? I made some and intended to use it right away but life happened and I forgot about it. It's been in the fridge now for around a week, week and a half...
  • Kirk B Rouxbe Staff
    Kirk B
    Hi Vicki, It's recommended to discard any unused cashew cream after 3 days in the fridge; you might consider keeping excess product in the freezer instead, where it's good for approximately six months. I hope this was helpful. Chef Kirk
  • Emily S
    Emily S
    I found that after I let it sit out for 12 hours under a cheesecloth, there was a hard shell on it. I live in a dry climate. When I blended it together, little chunks of the hard outer layer got mixed in and left it lumpy. Is there anything I can do to prevent this in the future?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    It will be important to limit the dehydrating effect of the dry air or add moisture to the cashew cream environment. So, try the following, 1) cover with plastic wrap with a few holes poked to allow breathing, or 2) cover with cheesecloth and a damp cloth to provide some humidity.
  • Barbara M
    Barbara M
    Hi, Why does my cream look "bumpy" not chunks but like little granolas? I thought I mixed it well. Should I blend it longer?
  • Kirk B Rouxbe Staff
    Kirk B
    Hi Barbara - Thanks for your question. A couple of thoughts; In my experience, the longer I soak my cashews,, the creamier my cashew cream tends to be. I like to soak them overnight. And I like to soak them in cold water - some like to boil them, but I find creamier results with cold water. Also, for that silkier texture, I like to use a blender vs. a food processor like a Robo Coupe, Cuisinart, etc. I use a Vitamix Professional 500 Series and it usually does the job. I hope this helps Barbara! All the best, Chef Kirk

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