Smokey Cashew Cheesy Spread [With Sauce Option]
This fabulous vegan smokey cashew cheese is a recipe I come back to again and again and I just know you’ll LOVE it! I’ve been making variations of cashew-based cheeses for several years now and this is our absolute favourite.
As well as being gorgeous on crackers and in sandwiches, this tangy spread is versatile too – you can simply thin it a little by mixing with extra hot water and within moments you’ll have a creamy cheesy sauce that’s just perfect for macaroni cheese.
And the best thing about this recipe? It is quick and easy to make. After soaking some cashews in hot water for a few minutes, simply toss them into a blender with everything else and blitz until ultra smooth. Heating briefly in a pan magically transforms the mixture into a thick and creamy eat-me-now cheese spread you’ll want to put on everything!
Makes approximately 330g.
100g raw cashews, plus boiled water to soak
6 tbsp nutritional yeast (nooch)
2 tbsp soy sauce (or half white miso if you’ve got any)
2 tbsp lemon juice (from a squeezy bottle is fine)
1 tsp liquid smoke*
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
200ml water from a recently boiled kettle
Optional: Pinch of turmeric and 1/4 tsp smoked paprika – enhances the lovely cheesy colour!
*Liquid smoke can be found in many supermarkets now, or easily purchased online. This is what gives the fabulous smokey taste, but the recipe will still work if you haven’t got any – you’ll just end up with a more neutral tasting result.
First you’ll need to soak the cashews. If you have a really powerful blender or processor (such as a Vitamix or a Nutri Bullet) then a 10-minute soak in just-boiled water from the kettle will be enough. If your blender is not as strong, soak the cashews for an hour in just-boiled water or overnight (cold water is fine for an overnight soak).
After the soak, thoroughly drain the cashews and place in a blender or processor along with all the other ingredients, including 200ml hot water.
Process on the highest speed until completely smooth (you’ll probably need to to scrape down the sides a couple of times). This takes a full 60 seconds in my Vitamix. When it’s done, pour the mixture into a small saucepan.
On the lowest setting, heat the mixture until it starts to thicken. Keep stirring the whole time. It takes just a few minutes; the texture will change from a single-cream consistency to thick custard. Be careful as it can start to spit (and it’s probably done by this point).
Pour the mixture – now thick and really cheesy! – into a heatproof bowl or container and leave it to cool. It will form a skin as it cools (a bit like custard) so consider placing a piece of clingfilm or baking paper if you want to avoid that. Refrigerate as soon as possible and eat within a week.
For sauces, simply reheat with water (or plant-based milk, if you like) to thin the cheese to the desired consistency. This will involve a bit of trial and error depending on how much sauce you wish to make; but as a rough guide I would suggest initially adding about 50ml water/milk to every 100g of the cheesy spread. Delicious poured over steaming hot macaroni!