Merry, Merry everyone! I hope all of you who celebrate have had a wonderful holiday season filled with love, peace, merriment, & delicious food. I have a very special recipe ~ my gift to you on this Christmas night! This is something I’ve been working on perfecting for a very long time & am so excited to share it.
A few years ago I discovered this Cashew “Goat” Cheese on C’est La Vegan & it has become a favorite recipe ever since. I’ve made it a number of times over the years, mainly for parties, holidays, & special occasions. Once & a while I’ll make it just for me, but I have to admit it’s dangerous to keep around. It doesn’t take me long to polish off the whole thing. It’s that delicious! After making it a number of times with varying results (a bit too salty, sometimes too soft, etc) I began playing around with the recipe trying to find the perfect proportion of ingredients to get it just the right texture & flavor to my liking. Finally, after many trials ~ I think I finally got it just the way I wanted it.
The “basic” recipe it fantastic as is, but lately I’ve enjoyed adding a few extras to make it festive & special. For Christmas, I added fresh rosemary when preparing the cheese, then topped the finished with product with chopped dried cranberries. This made for a beautiful holiday cheese plate as an appetizer before dinner served with super seed crackers, olives & dried apricots.
- ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked over night
- 4 Tbsp. safflower oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. tahini
- ½-1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 Tbsp. water
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight.
- Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, & drain again. Purée cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, water, salt, & rosemary in food processor for 6 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
- Place large strainer over bowl, & line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth, fold sides of cloth over cheese, & form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends of cloth & secure with rubber bands. Set in strainer over bowl, & let stand 12 hours at room temperature. Discard excess liquid (there usually isn't much). Chill.
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese, & scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap, & twist ends to secure. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool, & chill.
- Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle with dried cranberries, press to adhere.
As you can see, it requires a bit of prep time & planning in advance for the soaking, aging, chilling & baking, but I promise it is worth all the labor. I usually put the cashews out in the morning, blend them up in the evening, let it age over night, & put in the fridge first thing in the morning until I am ready to bake.
Mmmm, mmmm….the result is mild, soft & spreadable vegan cheese that is perfect on crackers or baguette, but firm enough that you can “crumble” it like goat cheese, or slice it into rounds & served on top of an arugula salad (like my favorite salad I had in Paris!). I bet it would be awesome on a sandwich or pizza, as well. To make the “basic” recipe omit the rosemary & cranberries, or have fun & experiment with herbs, & toppings. The possibilities are endless! A few that I want to try are a “pizza” cheese with basil & sundried tomatoes, “truffle” cheese with a bit of truffle oil & salt, & maybe a “sweet” cheese with Bee Free Honee. If you want a softer spread, add another tablespoon of water. Not a fan of tahini? Omit it. Don’t have the time to “age” it? Serve raw in a ramekin as a spread for crackers. It’s super versatile. Please let me know what variations you come up with!
But, please, at least once try my festive holiday version! It’s destined to be a vegan family favorite, & you just might surprise the omnivores too! In fact, I’d be surprised if there is any leftover. Lucky for me, there is enough left over for me to enjoy a snack while I sip on a holiday martini with my grandpa.
And with that, hope your holiday was merry & bright, & wishing you all a good night. Enjoy!