Vegan Artisan Cheese: Cookbook Review with Cashew Cream Cheese Recipe
If you loved dairy cheese before going vegan — or lean towards vegan eating, but still struggle with a cheese habit — prepare to celebrate! Miyoko Schinner’s Vegan Artisan Cheese will revolutionize your vegan kitchen, in luscious and delicious ways.
Schinner’s recipes have irrevocably raised the bar, for vegan cheese deliciousness. There are no ‘substitutes’ here: these cheeses hold their ground against any and all dairy competitors, and not just among vegans!
Vegan Artisan Cheese doesn’t promise quick-and-easy: many of the recipes require (gasp!) multiple steps. None are especially difficult, but since many require culturing or other multi-day processes, a bit of initial patience comes in handy. Believe me: it’s worth it!
My favorite things in the universe now are cashew cream cheese, sharp cheddar (I make it sharp smoky cheddar), and boursin cheese from this cookbook. The meltable Muenster also makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, and the Camembert is incredible just served with fruit and wine! Thanks to Schinner’s creative recipes and clear instructions, I’ve also grown addicted to homemade cashew yogurt — which can also then be used to make even more scrumptious creamy cheeses!
Some of the cheese recipes (like the cashew cream cheese) are pretty simple in terms of ingredients and process. Others require ingredients I hadn’t used before, like carrageenan or agar powder or rejuvalac, and require several days from start to finish. Vegan Artisan Cheese includes a recipe for easy-to-make rejuvelac, as well as a comprehensive guide to sources for other ingredients helpful to vegan cheesemakers. In all cases from simple to complex recipes, the results absolutely make it time well spent!
Smile and Say Cheese
Early Artisan Vegan Cheese chapters include Aged Cheeses, Air-Dried Cheeses, and Meltable Cheeses. The cheeses themselves, whether simple or complex, will tempt you to eat them all in one sitting. All of these recipes knocked my vegan cheese-loving socks off:
- Cashew Chevre with Lemon Zest and Peppercorns
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil (Cashew) Cheese
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Garlic Cream Cheese
- Air-Dried Gouda
- Air-Dried Parmesan
- Air-Dried Camembert
- Meltable Monterey Jack (great with diced jalapenos added!)
- Meltable Mozzarella
- Almond Ricotta
- Garlic-Basil Cashew Ricotta
- Smoked Provolone
Along with the cheese recipes, Schinner also offers tasty recipes for other dairy alternatives — make your own scrumptious sour cream, fluffy whipped coconut cream, cashew yogurt, and almond milk!
Roughly half of this excellent cookbook offers ideas for cooking with the cheese you’ve made, such as:
- Stuffed Squash Blossoms (with Macadamia Ricotta)
- Artichokes Stuffed with Almonds and Cheese
- Fettuccine Alfredo with Gruyere and Mushrooms
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Chard and Ricotta Calzones
- Cauliflower Gratin
- Raspberry Mousse
AND O MY GOODNESS, THE CHEESECAKES! Cheesecake, in various forms, has always been a traditional holiday dish for my family. So I was absolutely thrilled to find an amazing array of luscious cheesecake recipes in this cookbook, utilizing the Artisan Vegan cream cheese (recipe below). If you love cheesecake like I do, you’ll be excited to find recipes for Creamy No-Bake Cheesecake, Fluffy No-Bake Cheesecake, San Francisco Cheesecake, Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Chocolate Cheesecake, to amaze and delight vegan and nonvegan friends alike!
(Silence, with crickets chirping peacfully in the background!)
I don’t really have anything negative to report with this cookbook — it’s brought me basically uninterrupted satisfaction. Every recipe I’ve tried so far has been great, directions are clear and concise, and the recipe variety is impressive.
Using agar powder instead of carrageenan as a thickening agent, for some recipes I needed 3 times the carrageenan measurements rather than twice as much (as recommended). For example, the meltable Muenster calls for 1 tablespoon carrageenan or 2 tablespoons agar powder; I needed 3 tablespoons of agar powder to get a texture I liked, in the finished cheese.
Other than that, I’ve got no trouble to report; short of someone coming to my house and making the cheeses for me, I can’t think of a way I could be happier with this cookbook!
Taste Bud Teaser
Schinner has generously made her Cashew Cream Cheese and Meltable Muenster recipes available online at the Marin Independent Journal. The cashew cream cheese offers simplicity, as well as addictive deliciousness!
Cashew Cream Cheese
- Makes about 1 pound (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours and drained
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened nondairy yogurt (preferably homemade)
- Pinch salt
Process the ingredients: Put the cashews, water, nondairy yogurt and salt in a blender. Process until smooth and creamy, occasionally stopping to scrape down the blender jar and move the mixture toward the blades.
Culture the cheese: Transfer to a clean glass container, cover 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. Cover and refrigerate. The cheese will get firmer as it chills.
Note: Stored in a covered container, cashew cream cheese will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 4 months in the freezer.
I like it cultured for 24 hours, with about 1/2 teaspoon each of agave nectar and fresh lemon juice stirred in at the end of the process. Top with raspberry-jalapeno jam, serve with crackers, and die of happiness!
Amazing Must-Have Cookbook
If you’re vegan, vegan-leaning, lactose intolerant, or just an adventurous cook looking for exciting new kitchen ideas: I could not recommend Vegan Artisan Cheese more strongly! It is life-changingly good, if you love cruelty-free food AND cheese.
Go here to enter a photo contest through November 10th, to win a copy of this excellent book — the contest link also offers Schinner’s Smoked Provolone and Meltable Muenster recipes.
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Vegan Feast Catering.