Apr 15, 2013

Cashew Cream Cheese + Tea Sandwiches

When I first omitted dairy from my diet I was replacing it with processed cheese alternatives. I even suggested some of them here on my blog. I recently read the ingredients label on a cream cheese substitute. I knew it wouldn’t be good: Water, expeller processed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit and olive), maltodextrin, soy protein, tofu, nondairy lactic acid, blend of natural gums (locust bean, guar, cellulose, xantham, and carrageenan), organic sugar, veg. mono and diglycerides, salt.

Oil, sugar, mono and diglycerides…. what was I doing? Certainly this is not a whole food, nor even a healthy choice. Some people are going to start calling me a purist. That’s okay. They can also call me healthy! On Dr. Fuhrman’s site there is a thread in the members forum titled “You know you’re a nutritarian when…” Some of the answers are pretty funny and one that comes to mind is “You know you’re a nutritarian when your idea of eating poorly is other people’s idea of eating healthy!” It seems that is exactly what is occurring.

I recently purchased the book Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner. Wow! I’m so excited to try ALL of her recipes. I’m starting with the easy ones, and one of those is cream cheese. So easy, I cannot believe it! When I first blended the ingredients I was skeptical. Okay, it just tastes like cashews. Then I let it sit, as directed… 24 hours. Sniff. Smells a little different. 48 hours. Sniff. What??? That smells just like cream cheese! Guess what? It tastes just like it, too.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews soaked in water for 8 hours and drained
  • ½ cup water (add a little at a time, less is better for a thicker cheese)
  • 2 TBS plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Process the ingredients: Put the cashews, nondairy yogurt, and salt in a blender. Process, adding the water a bit at a time, until smooth and creamy, occasionally stopping to scrape down the blender jar and move the mixture toward the blades.
  2. Culture the cheese: Transfer to a clean glass bowl or container, cover securely with a breathable cloth, like cheesecloth or a paper towel and let rest at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, depending on how sharp a flavor you want and the ambient temperature (culturing will proceed more quickly at warmer temperatures). For use in cheesecakes that will be sweetened, allowing it to culture for a full 48 hours will create a tanginess that will nicely complement the sweetener. When it’s cultured to your desired taste, cover and refrigerate. The cheese will get firmer as it chills.

Storage Notes: Stored in a covered container, cashew cream cheese will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 4 months in the freezer.

Yay. Now I have this amazing cream cheese. What to do with it? I spy a beautiful organic cucumber sitting in the fridge. Perfect marriage. If you’ve never made these adorable tea sandwiches, you really should. They make such a lovely presentation and they’re easier to make than you may think.
Simply spread an even layer of cream cheese on your favorite bread. I used a hearty whole grain rye. Then, using a vegetable peeler (or a mandolin if you have one) slice the cuke lengthways into thin ribbons. Lay the ribbons diagonally on top of the cheese, overlapping slightly, and slice the bread into triangles. Top with a bit of fresh grated black pepper and anything else your heart desires!

The little sandwiches were a tease for us, so I also made some closed sandwiches with sliced onion and sunflower sprouts. A wonderfully fresh combination.
Enjoy!
Healthy trails,

17 responses to “Cashew Cream Cheese + Tea Sandwiches”

  1. Christine says:

    I can't wait to try this. Giving up cheese is the hardest for us too, cream cheese is a fave at our house. Will post when I try this!

  2. Helyn says:

    That's great, Christine! I look forward to hear how it turns out for you!

  3. I just found your blog, Helyn, and LOVE it! I'm working my way through your wonderful recipes and look forward to your posts. We, too, live in FL and NC.

    Is there any substitute for vegan yogurt? I can almost never find it, and if I do, it is sweetened and fruity. Bah! I used to make my own yogurt, but haven't been successful since I became a vegan.

  4. Helyn says:

    Hi Suzanne and welcome! Where in NC do you live? We are here full time now.

    Nope, haven't found a good yogurt substitute. There was only one brand around my neck of the woods and they have stopped distribution temporarily. So I started making my own! It's pretty easy if you do it from scratch with freeze dried organisms. I just use an unsweetened soymilk like Westsoy (you do have to add some sweetener for the little guys to eat though). I use date sugar. Anyway, one quart of soy milk, 1 tsp date sugar and 1 packet of vegan probiotic mix (found on Amazon). You don't even need to boil the milk if you get it in the sterile carton. Let it sit somewhere warm overnight or use a yogurt maker. Works pretty good!

    Hope this helps! 🙂
    Helyn

  5. Me again. Just tried to find the probiotic mix on Amazon and didn't see the obvious match–no packets in anything called vegan, for starters. Do you have a link you could share?

  6. Helyn says:

    Hey Suzanne… yes, you're right. I can't find it there anymore either. Here is another source:

    http://www.culturesforhealth.com/vegan-dairy-free-yogurt-starter.html

  7. Basic Poke says:

    It sounds good, but why do you call this Tea Sandwiches?

  8. Helyn says:

    That's a good question!

    Tea sandwiches are called such because they originated in England where they were meant to be a small snack between lunch and dinner at tea time. Dinner was traditionally served at about 8pm so tea was at about 4 so that folks would not have such a lengthy time without food.

    Here is a definition from Wikipedia:

    A tea sandwich is a small prepared sandwich meant to be eaten at afternoon teatime to stave off hunger until the main meal. The tea sandwich may take a number of different forms, but should be easy to handle, and should be capable of being eaten in two bites. It may be a long, narrow sandwich, a triangular half-sandwich, or a small biscuit. It may also be cut into other decorative shapes with a cookie cutter.

    The bread is traditionally white, thinly sliced, and buttered. The bread crust is cut away cleanly from the sandwich after the sandwich has been prepared but before serving. Modern bread variations might include wheat, pumpernickel, sour dough or rye bread.

    Fillings are light, and are "dainty" or "delicate" in proportion to the amount of bread. Spreads might include cream cheese or mayonnaise mixtures, and the sandwiches often feature fresh vegetables such as radishes, cucumber, asparagus, or watercress. The cucumber tea sandwich in particular is considered the quintessential tea sandwich.

  9. Is there anything else I can try to sub for the yogurt. I did try and make my own almond milk yogurt but it wasn't very tangy so haven't done again. Getting unsweetened non dairy yogurt here is difficult. Perhaps I could use lemon juice or vinegar??? Is it for the flavour profile or to help it ferment? I guess I could try using probiotic capsule like making keffir if the culturing is what is needed. I have made a version of sour cream using cashews etc and got the acidity with citrus…..hmmm

  10. Helyn says:

    Yes, it is for the fermentation. You could certainly try the probiotic capsule!

  11. Corey Pyle says:

    I know this is an old post but don't forget about rejuvelac! It's actually suggested in Miyoko's book and super easy to make. Just sprout some quinoa or another grain and then soak it in a mason jar with a coffee filter on top until it tastes lemony.

  12. Helyn says:

    YES! Rejuvelac ROCKS. I used it in my recipe for Cultured Cashew Pimento Cheddar "Cheese"… there is a recipe for the Rejuvelac there too. 🙂

  13. Corey Pyle says:

    Ooo sounds tasty. I'll have to check that one out. Keep doin' what you're doin'. I've been plant-based for a little over a year now and this is one of my favorite blogs.

  14. Hi Helyn! I was wondering if the mixture should culture covered with a cloth or a tight lid?
    Thanks

  15. Helyn says:

    I cover mine with a paper towel and secure with a rubber band. A cloth would work too. It needs air. Enjoy!

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