This cream cheese is so realistic, if I had not made it myself, I would swear it was made with cow’s milk. I learned the secret from Miyoko Schinner and her Artisan Vegan Life recipes and Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook. Just blending soaked cashews with a little water, lemon juice, and salt makes a very convincing cream cheese to begin with, however, if you add Miyoko’s stroke of genius a.k.a. almond milk yogurt and allow the cream cheese to culture/ferment over the course of a day, the results are a dead ringer for dairy cream cheese.
This is a godsend for the lactose intolerant as well as vegans. I recently wrote Panera Bread about carrying more vegan options — imagine if Panera provided vegan cream cheese!
Which begs the question, why does anyone ever need to torture a cow and take away her babies for cream cheese when you can just make an exact replica cholesterol-free out of cashews and vegan yogurt?
1 cup cashews soaked in water 9 – 24 hours
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 drops liquid smoke
1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy yogurt, plain flavor
1/4 cup water
Salt, to taste
1 green onion, minced
SANDWICH INGREDIENTS (FOR ONE):
1-2 tablespoons vegan smoky onion cream cheese
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 a small avocado, sliced thinly or smashed
4 slices of cucumber, peeled and seeded
Soak cashews and drain. I have noticed that with my Vitamix blender, it is far easier to blend cashews in large batches of 2 cups or more. A good strategy is to make this cream cheese in bulk by doubling the recipe and then freezing the excess. I used the cream cheese without onions as a base for Mozzarella Basil Caprese Salad from Artisan Vegan Life.
Combine cashews, lemon juice, liquid smoke, water,salt, and yogurt in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. Alternately, save the blending altogether by replacing the cashews with cashew butter. Blending soaked cashews into a smooth paste will take longer in a non-high speed blender, however, it can be done. No matter what kind of blender you have, the sides will have to be repeatedly scraped down. I use a rubber spatula. Add water by the tablespoon to get the consistency you want, keeping in mind it will thicken dramatically once it sits out for a day. Add the minced green onions to the blender and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated.
Transfer the cream cheese to a container and allow it to sit on the counter for anywhere from 12 – 36 hours. The yogurt will help the mixture to ferment/culture. The mixture will thicken as it sits. The longer you leave it to sit, the more tangy your cream cheese will be.
Chill the cream cheese. Toast the bread and assemble the sandwich!