If you’ve craved cheesecakes, rich cream cheese frosting, and other sweets traditionally made with cream cheese, this recipes will come to your rescue. The basic version below isn’t sweet, however, so you can also enjoy it on bagels or in savor dishes. In fact, you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for cream cheese. Only a bit of nondairy yogurt is needed to culture this versatile cheese.
Ingredients for CASHEW CREAM CHEESE :
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours and drained
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt (preferably homemade)
- Pinch salt
Process the ingredients
- Put the cashews, water, nondairy yogurt, and salt in a blender.
- Process until smooth and creamy, occasionally stopping to scrape down the blender jar and move the mixture toward the blades
Culture the cheese
- Transfer to a clean glass bowl or container, cover, and let rest at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, depending on how sharp a flavor you want and the ambient temperature (culturing will proceed more quickly at warmer temperatures). For use in cheesecakes that will be sweetened, allowing it to culture for a full 48 hours will create a tanginess that will nicely complement the sweetener. Cover and refrigerate. The cheese will get firmer as it chills.
STORAGE NOTES: Stored in a covered container, Cashew Cream Cheese will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 4 months in the freezer.
- The Italian version of cream cheese and the star ingredient in tiramisu, mascarpone is similar to cream cheese, but a little sweeter, milder, and typically softer.
- To make a nondairy version of mascarpone, allow the cashew mixture to culture for only 12 to 24 hours – long enough to thicken and develop some flavor, but not so long that it gets tangy. It should have a sweet, mild flavor.
FIRM CASHEW CREAM CHEESE
- To make a firm, block-type cream cheese, press the cheese after it’s cultured.
- Line a small sieve or colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, using enough cheesecloth that it hangs over the edges.
- Put the sieve over a bowl. Put the cheese in the sieve and wrap the ends of the cheesecloth over the top.
- Put a plate on top and put a 5 to 10 pound weight on the plate – a clean river rock, a container of water, a cast-iron skillet, or whatever you have handy.
- Let stand at room temperature for about 24 hours to press much of the liquid out of the cheese. (Discard the liquid.) The resulting cheese will be quite firm. Use as is, or flavor with chives, herbs, or garlic.