Easy Vegan Cream Cheese Spread with Garlic and Fresh Herbs

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Mood: Need Cheez. Vegan, please. Let’s face it. For many of us, cheese is life. And chocolate too, of course. My husband & I are huge foodies & before I turned vegan, lounging around with some cheese & crackers was one of our favourite things to do:) And there’s no reason to stop now:) I’m on a mission to try & recreate our favourite cheeses, vegan style! First up, a Cream Cheese Spread, made from cashews, & loaded with the goodness of garlic & fresh herbs:) In pursuit of a delectable dip for my chip. An addictively scrumptious spread for my bread. (Yes, I can be quite poetic). And, I’m thrilled to report, ladies & gentlemen, that this Cream Cheese turned out to be absolutely DELICIOUS:)


Food For Thought: I tested this cheese out on two very non vegan men (my husband & another friend) & seriously, I couldn’t believe how quickly they inhaled this stuff down. And when given the choice between regular Triple Cream Brie Cheese & my Vegan Cream Cheese, my friend actually chose the vegan option, because he loved it that much:) Now that’s what I call winning! #Happiness


PS: The holiday season is here:) In the spirit of Christmas, I decorated my Cream Cheese in festive colours, using red Chilli Flakes & fresh green Dill fronds, as mini Christmas trees, to add a burst of colour to a snowy white cream cheese base:)  A special touch for your next Holiday party:) If you want an accompanying festive themed sweet spread to make a perfect sweet & savoury pair, then check out my Easy Vegan Cranberry Balsamic Jam with Mint & Chia Seeds🙂


Time: 10 mins (+12 hours soaking time for the cashews)
Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup (perfect for a party size dip bowl!)
Category: Side; Spread
Author: Animagus Eats


Ingredients:
• 1 cup Cashews (raw)
• 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
• 5 tbsp Almond Milk*
• 3 tbsp fresh Basil (chopped)
• 1 tbsp fresh Dill (chopped) + extra whole Dill fronds as garnish
• 1 tsp Garlic (minced)
• 2 tsp Garlic Powder*
• 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast*
• Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Dry Herb Mix, Chilli Flakes (to taste)
• 2 tbsp Olive Oil
• Water (as required)


Method:

1. Soak the cashews in a bowl of cold water for 10-12 hours. The easiest thing to do is to soak the cashews before going to bed & let them soften up overnight. They will be ready when you wake up, & just in time for breakfast too:) In case you don’t have 12 hours to spare, then soak the cashews in hot water for 1-2 hours. Remember the longer it soaks, the creamier your cream cheese will be:)
 
2. Once the cashews have soaked, drain them well & add them to a food processor, along with all the other ingredients (except water). 
 
3. Blend the cashews with all the other ingredients, until the mixture is smooth, creamy & well combined. If it’s not creamy enough, then add a bit more almond milk/water (it should not become too runny though!). Make sure to scrape all the sides regularly & combine all the ingredients properly, so that every mouthful of the cream cheese can be a delectable explosion of flavours:) Also, it’s important to remember that the taste & texture won’t exactly be like actual dairy cream cheese. It will be a bit more on the grainier side & the texture will actually add to the whole gastronomical experience:)
 
4. Time for my secret sauce: Taste.Tweak.Repeat. Do a taste check & adjust the flavours according to your tastebuds:) Do you want it to be more herby? Add more fresh basil/dill & dry herb mix. Is it not cheesy enough?! An extra shot of Nutritional Yeast, please. Needs more kick? A tad bit more garlic. Not spicy enough? Chilli Flakes to the rescue! And finally, a touch of Sea Salt to tie it all together:)
 

5. When you’re happy with the flavours, transfer the mixture to a serving bowl & garnish with fresh Dill & Chilli Flakes:) Time to dig in! If you can’t finish it in one go (believe me, I tried) & you want to save some for breakfast later, then good news! It also stays well refrigerated for 3-4 days:) You can enjoy this cream cheese with chips, crackers, pretzels, bread, fresh vegetables..the list goes on. Basically, spread it on anything & everything & indulge to your heart’s glory! Because guess what? It’s quite healthy too! Can it get any better than this? You can actually have your cheese & it eat it too. Sorry, was that line too ‘cheesy’ for you? Pun intended. Okay, I’ll shut up now. Happy Eating:)


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Notes:
* You can also use water or any other kind of unsweetened non dairy milk. I have only tested the recipe with Almond Milk:)
* If you don’t have Garlic Powder, you can add some more chopped garlic. I like using Garlic Powder because it adds intensity of flavour without becoming overpowering:)
* Nutritional Yeast (NY) is an extremely important part of the recipe, because it helps us to recreate that true cheesy flavour:) The cashew mixture will taste great even without the NY, but it just won’t give you that cheesy kick. If you’re new to the NY scene, or Nooch, as we vegans lovingly call it, then welcome aboard:) This stuff will help you recreate cheesy magic in all your vegan dishes & it’s actually quite good for you too! Read more about it here. So, where can you score some Nooch? If it’s not available at your local grocery store, then you can buy it online on Amazon:) Folks in India, you can buy it here on Amazon India:) One pack will last you a long time & trust me, it’s 125% worth it:)


Inspiration: Adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Cheese recipe.

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