I have a love affair with Botanical Cuisine nut based cream cheeses. I’ve been known to have up to six jars in my fridge at one time. They are, however, way too expensive for me to keep scoffing them at the rate I do. Instead, I’ve been making a pretty good substitute at a fraction of the cost.
The cheese is made by blending the cashews with non dairy probiotics and then adding some seasonings after culturing. My favourite seasonings are some good salt, truffle oil, lemon juice and pepper. I’ve been buying broken raw Australian cashews from NSM Nuts in Brunswick, Melbourne. They are about $7 per kilo.
To prepare the cashews, it really helps to have a high-speed blender. I’ve treated myself to an OmniBlend – which is a much, much cheaper copy of a Vitamix. High speed blenders are incredible. You can still make cheese in a food processor, but it will be slightly more grainy than the really smooth paste that the blender will produce.
A lot of recipes for vegan cheese use savoury yeast. Resist the temptation to use it as a flavouring with this cheese, it will just ruin it. Not that I have anything against savoury yeast, it has its place, but it is not in this cheese. The fantastic flavour comes from the fact that it is cultured with bacteria, like dairy cheese, and you really don’t want to mask this with a blunt instrument like savoury yeast.
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in water)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt (use something nice not just ordinary cooking or table salt.)
- ½ teaspoon pepper (freshly ground)
- 10 drops truffle oil (I used white truffle oil)
- 3 capsules of non dairy probiotics (I used Ethical Nutrients Inner Health Plus Dairy Free)
- Soak the cashews overnight and then drain.
- Put the cashews into the blender and add a teaspoon of water. Blend and add only barely enough water to get the paste moving. You don't want to make it wet, the idea is to get a smooth paste that is as thick as possible, not a liquid.
- Once the paste is smooth add the contents of the three capsules (open them and tip the powder in!) and blend.
- Put the paste into a bowl, cover and allow to culture at room temperature for 2-3 days. Smell/taste it occasionally to see how it is going.
- When it is ready add the seasonings to taste. Start slowly, you can always add more, but taking away seasoning is a bit tricky. I've given some suggested amounts, but start with half of those and add, mix and taste until you like it.
- Put into a jar and pour a layer of olive oil on top and keep in the refrigerator.
- Chill and serve with biscuits, bread, on toast, in roasted potatoes or mixed through pasta.