This was my first attempt at a cashew "cheese". It seems like it takes a while, but it really doesn't. Most of the time it takes is passive - waiting time - soaking the cashews, culturing and draining the blended cashews, letting the drained mix mature in the fridge before eating, etc. I think it's totally worth it and I don't mind planning ahead a little. In fact, I will add this to my standby dips and spreads that usually I have at hand in the fridge or freezer: sprouted lentil dip, hummus, roasted red pepper dip, roasted aubergine dip (baba ghanouj/mutabbal), and avocado carrot dip. All of these freeze really well and are terrific when you want a bit of a snack before dinner - or as dinner. I also have any one of these in the office fridge when I know I'll be in office for a few days in a row.
Although this cashew "cheese" makes a great addition to a cheese plate, and was all gone by the end of the evening, I am not sure I'd call it cheese... feels a bit gimmicky. I think perhaps cultured cashew spread or paté is more appropriate. Regardless, I'll be making this much more often, with a couple of changes to make it more firm textured.
Mine had more of a spread-like consistency, probably because I used cashew halves, which absorb more water compared to whole cashews. Also likely because of that, I didn't need to use much water during blending. Taste-wise it was a winner though... next time I'll be sure to hang it to drain rather than setting it over paper towels in a bowl. Use glass containers, not plastic, because plastic absorbs odours and is more prone to fungus - that's going to waste all the effort you've put into making this!
Cultured Cashew Spread, or "Cheese"
makes: two 3 in. x 1-1/2 in. rounds
- 1 cup cashew halves, soaked for 8 - 12 hours
- 1-1/2 tsp. probiotics (I used Yogo non-dairy yogurt starter)
- 1-1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-2 tbsp. water
- 1-2 tbsp. water
- fresh or dried herbs/spices (I used fresh cilantro on one round and crushed peppercorns, dried rosemary, and thyme on the other)
- Blend the soaked cashews with probiotics until very smooth... like buttercream frosting. If needed during blending, add water 1 tbsp. at a time but try to blend using minimum water. The soaked cashew halves should have absorbed plenty of water already.
- Transfer to a glass bowl lined with 3 - 4 layers of paper towels and let it culture in a warm draft-free place for 24 hours (I put it in the oven - while it's off, of course!).
- After it's cultured, line 2 ramekins with plastic wrap and arrange your herbs on the bottom. Divide the cultured cashew mix between the ramekins and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it mature in the fridge for at least 24 hours, and up to 2 weeks, before serving.
- To serve: lift the plastic with the cheese from the ramekin and invert onto a plate or cheese tray and discard the plastic. Serve with fresh fruit and crackers or crostini.