Makes 2 cups
That’s exactly how I came up with this waffle spread recipe, building upon Russell James’ basic cashew nut cheese recipe from his Raw Nut Cheese Recipes ebook. You can spread it on waffles, or after it’s thickened and ripened a bit more in the fridge for a few days, slice it into bite-sized pieces and eat it alone as a dessert.
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 cup water (for a slightly more fermented flavor, you can also use rejuvelac as described at Sunny Raw Kitchen)
- 1 teaspoon probiotic powder*
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup brown sugar**
- 2 tablespoons molasses (preferably blackstrap)
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
Soak the cashews in room-temperature water for 20 minutes. Drain the cashews and place in a blender with the 1 cup of water (or rejuvelac prepared in advance) and probiotic powder, mixing at high speed until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the blender pitcher as necessary.
Put the mixture in a sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth (I used extra-fine cheesecloth and doubled it), placed over a bowl to catch any water. Then put a weight on top to help push out water. I use a jar filled with water as James suggests, with one addition: I then place the jar atop a flat-bottomed plastic bowl with a diameter just slightly smaller than that of the sieve. The bowl helps to distribute the weight for more even pressing. Don’t worry if that much water doesn’t drip out, as the cheesecloth itself will absorb some of the water.
Allow to culture at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours. I chose the midpoint of James’ recommendation, allowing it to sit between 36 and 40 hours. Then remove the cultured mixture from the sieve or colander, and place in a medium bowl. Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar, molasses, nutritional yeast, and salt. Stir until well blended and smooth.
If you simply can’t resist, enjoy at this step, spread atop your favorite vegan waffle, alongside a glass of pinot noir. (Some wine recommendations at Barnivore or Veg News.) Otherwise, place the remainder in a small bowl in the warmest part of your refrigerator (usually the veggie crisper) for 1-2 days, where it will thicken just a bit more and the tartness from the culturing will become slightly more pronounced. We finished it within a week, so we didn’t get a chance to experiment with any serious aging.
Jo Stepaniak’s now-classic Uncheese Cookbook originally got me interested in homemade dairy-free cheese possibilities–including desserts similar to cheesecake. While some of her great recipes utilize miso to add a bit of that fermented flavor, the actual culturing of the nuts with probiotics takes things in another direction. (This is how Dr. Cow vegan cheeses does it, but with a bit more practice and know-how.)
I am curious to try a variation on this recipe as well: vegan chipotle chocolate cheese. I do have a bit of raw smoked chipotle cashew cheese aging in my new “cheese cave”–a re-purposed wine refrigerator that I got a good deal on–and may try a cocoa + chipotle hybrid spread in the near future. If you try something like this and it turns out well, please let me know!
*Note: You’ll need to check each brand of probiotic to confirm whether it comes from a non-dairy source. I can’t comment on the different results that different probiotic strains/blends may produce–sources I’ve read so far suggest that most probiotic powders will do the trick. I used New Chapter All Flora, a non-dairy-derived blend of several strains that James includes in his examples. If you buy capsules instead of powder, you’ll need to break open enough capsules to get a teaspoon of the powder, and then discard the shells of the capsules.
**Note: If you’re not a big fan of dark chocolate (i.e., with a cocoa content of above 50%) you may wish to experiment with adding a bit more brown sugar.