I’ve used variations of this dairy-free cream cheese in a bunch of my dairy-free recipes like, carrot cheesecake, as butter cream on cupcakes, and drenched over breakfast cake but never created a dedicated post to to it. It’s one of my favorite things to make so I’m excited to finally be sharing the step-by-step with you all.
First – you have to decide what approach you’re taking with your cream cheese.
If you want authentic, cultured vegan cheese then you’ll want to use a yogurt starter to create the culture. I use this Vegan and Gluten-free Yolife Yogurt Starter.
If you want semi-authentic, vegan cheese that hasn’t been cultured but has a tad less steps, then you can use raw apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice.
For the purpose of today’s post, we’re going to go with the easier method and save the culture fun for another day.
You’ll want to soak the cashews for 24 hours. I like using cashew halves because they’re less expensive and they soak up more water making the mixture creamier. Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them really well.
Add the soaked cashews to a blender with 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water. If while you’re blending you need a bit more liquid, add up to another tablespoon of water.
You want the mixture to be smooth. Think butter cream smooth. Super, super smooth. Just like this…
Then, set the smooth cheese aside for awhile. The longer you leave it to sit the more the flavors will develop. I leave mine for a couple of hours. Then, line a plastic container with cheesecloth. You’re not going to keep the stuff in plastic, so just choose any container you have handy.
Another decision is required of you here – do you want thick cheese or velvety cheese?
If you want dense cream cheese that’s more similar to the “real thing”, do NOT double up on the cheesecloth. Go 1-ply.
If you want velvety cream cheese, double up on the cheesecloth. Go 2-ply.
I went 2-ply.
Once the cheesecloth is over the container, drop the pureed cashew mass into the cheesecloth like this:
Once all of the mixture is in the cloth, pinch up the sides and tie it with some twine.
Now this is where you have to get a bit MacGyver all up in your kitchen. You need to suspend the cheesecloth bag. I like to tie it to my turmeric stained spoon and suspend it in a glass jug. Use whatever you have on hand. Get creative.
Once it’s all suspending you’ll need to place it somewhere warm and nice for 24 hours. I place mine on a little shelf right next to the heating register in our kitchen.
Leave it be.
The taste will be very vinegary at first. It has to sit for 24 hours to chill out before you judge the taste.
Once 24 hours have passed, you should have a bunch of liquid at the bottom of the jug. Yay!
Remove the cheesecloth bag from it’s resting place and cut away the twine.
You should be left with a glorious hunka beautiful vegan cream cheese that you can use on everything you would dairy cream cheese.
For those that are more 1-2-3 step type people, here’s the recipe…
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- 1½ cups raw cashew halves, soaked for 12-24 hours
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- Place raw cashew halves in a glass dish and fill with filtered water. Cover and place in the fridge to soak for 24 hours.
- Then, drain and rinse the cashews with water.
- Drop cashews in a blender or food processor and add remaining ingredients. Begin with 2 tablespoons of water and work up to 3 tablespoons if needed. The water is in the recipe just to help the mixture get as smooth as possible in the blender.
- Blend for 2 minutes or so, until it's as smooth as smooth can be. Set aside for a couple of hours.
- Drape a tall plastic container with cheesecloth. For thinner, more creamy cream cheese, double up the cloth. For a firmer cheese, use 1-ply. I chose to double up.
- Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the cheesecloth.
- Pull up the sides of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of string or twine.
- Hang the cheese bag on a kitchen utensil and rest it inside a vase or juice pitcher. It just has to be extended in the air so that the extra liquids can drain from it.
- Leave in a warm place for at least 24 hours. Then, remove from the hanging setup you've created, remove cheesecloth and serve as is or add flavors such as herbs, vanilla or a touch of sugar.
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And later we make something yummy (and vegan) with it.
Get the recipe for my No bake Vegan Cranberry Cheesecake Squares… using this delicious dairy-free cream cheese!