Cashew cheese is a healthy, wholesome delight that is a great substitute for dairy cheeses and is a gem in its own right. The outer layer is fluffy and dry with a gentle crisp toast-like shell. The deep flavoursome centre is smooth and silky. It is most enjoyable!
When properly prepared cashew cheese round is firm enough to be sliced. Yet, the slices melt in your mouth when eaten.
This cheese is very spreadable and can be used for a variety of purposes. It can be served cold or warm, or a little hotter straight from the oven to accentuate the crisp outer crust. Or you can cool it down in the fridge for a few hours to chill it and provide a firm texture. It just depends on your tastes and mood.
It is easy to make and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans as there is no milk or gelatin in the recipe. If fact the ingredients could not be simpler: just cashew nuts, water and salt, with various flavor options. Convinced? This article will show you how to make it and includes several recipe variations.
It is important to soak the cashews in salted water for about 8 hours or overnight.
Add them to a bowl, cover and let soak on the counter top.
Then drain your cashews and keep about 1/2 cup of the soaking water.
Transfer the cashews to a food processor bowl and add the salt and 1/2 cup salted water.
Blend well until the mixture is silky smooth. It is important to blend well and thoroughly until you get a consistency similar to that or a thick ricotta cheese.
If the mixture is too thick add a little extra water but don't thin it too much.
Taste the mixture and add more salt if needed, however the saltiness will increase during the next phase when the mixture is dried out and condensed.
This mixture can be used as a spread, even at this stage.
Stretch the cheesecloth over a jug or bowl, add the mixture and wrap it into a tight bundle and tie-off with a piece of string or rubber band. Make the string into a loop, and insert the chop stick or wooden handle so it can be suspended over a bowl or in some other way to catch the moisture that drips out as it is hung.
Allow your cheese to condense by draining the moisture from it for 2-4 hours at room temperature. The amount of water that drains off varies, and sometimes the liquid only soaks into the cloth without any liquid draining out. Place the wrapped cheese into the refrigerator overnight or for four hours or so. You can leaving hanging over a bowl if you like.
After chilling it the cheese should be a nice firm ball now. Remove it from the cloth -some cheese may tend to stick to the cloth but that's expected. Transfer the cheese to an oven proof serving bowl.
Bake the cashew cheese at 200-250 degrees F (95-120 degrees C) for 1-2 hours. The idea is to bake the cheese very slowly drying it out without melting it. The temperature and time for baking depends on you oven or burning it.
Remove the cheese and allow to cool down before serving warm of chill for several hours for a firmer cheese that can be sliced.
Put the cashews in a bowl and add cover with salted water. Soak the cashews for 2-4 hours or overnight, and then drain. Add the cashews, 1/3 cup water, garlic cloves, lemon juice and sea salt to a food processor bowl and blend thoroughly for 5 minutes or more until thick, silky smooth and creamy. Eat as is, or condense and bake as above.
Place cashews in large bowl and cover with salted water and leave to soak for 4 hours or overnight. Drain liquid using a sieve, rinse the cashews well using cold water and drain once again.
Blend the cashews, tahini, lemon juice, oil, salt, and two tablespoons of water in a food processor or blender for about 5-8 minutes, or until the mixture is creamy and silky smooth.
Using a large strainer, if you have one, or a bowl, pour the mixture into a double or triple layer of cheesecloth (depending on the weave of the cloth) lining the bowl or sieve. Gather the sides of the cloth and form into an oval loaf shape, or ball. Secure the ends of the cloth with rubber bands or string. Suspend the cheese in the cloth over a bowl, and let drain for 12 hours at room temperature.
Chill for about 4 hours to solidify the cheese. Unwrap from the cheesecloth and wrap in parchment paper.
Place on a baking tray and baked for about 35 - 45 minutes at about 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) until the outside of the cheese thickens and sets.
Remove from the over and chill while still wrapped in the parchment paper for two hours.
Unwrap the cheese, roll in peppercorns, pressing to make sure they are embedded into the cheese.