This Gooey, Super-Delicious Cheese Is Actually Vegan (No, Really)

When plant-based chef extraordinaire Julie Piatt gets her hands on a dish, she makes it incredibly healthy and nourishing, which is why we were so excited to see her turn her attention to cheese in her new book, This Cheese Is Nuts.  According to Julie, there are a few tricks that help vegan cheeses get that perfect texture: “You want to make sure to use a high-powered blender, soak the tree nuts overnight in filtered water, and add a bit of coconut oil to help it set up and give it a silky-smooth feel,” she explains. Here are a few classics she’s turned into plant-based masterpieces:

Classic Cream Cheese

Great on bagels, toast, or any of your favorite gluten-free breads!

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cashews
  • ½ teaspoon refined coconut oil, for greasing the pans
  • ¾ cup aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas)
  • ½ capsule acidophilus (3-billion-active-culture strain)

Easy Pre-Prep

Place the cashews in water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Method

  1. Lightly oil two 4-inch springform pans with coconut oil.
  2. Drain the cashews. In the bowl of a Vitamix, place the cashews, aquafaba, and acidophilus.
  3. Blend on medium speed, increasing to high speed, using the plunger to evenly distribute the mixture until smooth. Transfer the cheese to the prepared springform pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.
  4. Cut out a round of parchment paper that just fits the springform pan openings. (You don’t have to cover it securely as often the mixture will rise slightly beyond the top of the pan; this is fine.) Place the springform pans in the dehydrator and dehydrate at 90°F for 24 hours).
  5. Using an ice cream scooper, remove the inside of the cheese and transfer it to a glass storage container. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. Spread on your favorite breads.

Photo: Leia Vita Marasovich

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Classic Gorgonzola Blue Cheese

The superfood power of spirulina in this recipe can only lift you higher, and its marbled blue-green color is gorgeous!

Makes 2 4-inch cheese rounds or 1 6-inch round

Ingredients

  • 4 cups raw cashews
  • Coconut oil, for greasing the molds
  • 1 capsule acidophilus (3-billion-active-culture strain)
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon spirulina or frozen liquid spirulina

Easy Pre-Prep

Place the cashews in water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Method

  1. Lightly oil two 4-inch cheese molds with coconut oil.
  2. Drain the cashews. In the bowl of a Vitamix, place the cashews, acidophilus, coconut milk, and salt. Blend on medium speed, using the plunger to evenly distribute the mixture until smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and sprinkle with the powdered spirulina or break off small frozen chunks of live frozen spirulina and randomly drop them over the cheese mixture. Using a small rubber spatula, marble the spirulina through the mixture to create blue-green veins.
  4. Carefully transfer the mixture to the prepared cheese molds and place them in the dehydrator topped with parchment paper rounds cut to fit the tops of the molds.
  5. Dehydrate at 90°F for 24 hours.
  6. Transfer the molds to the fridge overnight to set up.
  7. Remove the cheese from the molds and enjoy, or place the cheese inside a humidifier or wine cooler for 1 to 3 weeks. Rub the outside with fine sea salt every few days to prevent black mold from appearing. The taste of the cheese will continue to develop as it ages.

Photo: Leia Vita Marasovich

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Related Class

Chipotle Cheddar

This is the perfect cheese filling for your favorite tamales. I adore the melt-in-your-mouth quality of this cheese. It doesn’t require aging, Just prep the cashews and Irish moss and you’ll be able to whip this cheese up in just a few minutes so you can get busy wrapping tamales!

Makes 1½ cups

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups raw cashews
  • ¼ cup Irish moss
  • 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili from a jar
  • 1 tablespoon oil from the chipotle jar
  • ½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Easy Pre-Prep

  1. Place the cashews in water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Rinse the Irish moss very well in a colander until all of the sand is removed and the smell of the ocean is gone. Then place it in water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Method

  1. Drain the Irish moss and place it in the bowl of a Vitamix with ½ cup water. Blend on high speed for 1 minute or until it is emulsified. Measure out 2 tablespoons and reserve the rest.
  2. Drain the cashews. In a clean pitcher of a Vitamix, place the cashews, the ¼ cup of emulsified Irish moss, the coconut oil, chipotle chili, chipotle oil, salt, and nutritional yeast. Blend on medium speed, using the plunger to evenly distribute the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Adjust the salt to taste. Spoon the mixture into the center of your tamale before wrapping. Ole!

Want more from Julie? She teaches you all about plant-based cooking with her husband, Rich Roll, in her best-selling mbg class, The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.

Based on excerpts from This Cheese Is Nuts by Julie Piatt, with the permission of Avery, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2017.

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