Hard Cashew Cheese


When I made this block of cheese, I was wondering what in the world am I going to do with that much cheese?! It wasn’t hard to figure that out once I tasted it. Eat it! The recipe is from The Vegan Table and her Creamy Macaroni and Cashew Cheese recipe, but with just one alteration: agar flakes. You can find these flakes in the Asian section of most grocery stores, but be prepared to spend a little. One 1-ounce package (you’ll need 1-1/2 packages) is about $8. But, it does make one big block of cheese. I’m sure halving the recipe would be fine.


I think this recipe is an excellent base for a block of cashew cheese, but we found that it just needed a little extra punch. Next time I will add some vegan Worcestershire sauce and perhaps some minced onion. It needed just a bit more saltiness. It’s a delicious mild cheese and easy to slice and would be fantastic on sandwiches or even on nachos. Really, anything you can think of needing some cheese, melted or not, this would work—even shredded.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/4 C raw cashews

1/2 C nutritional yeast

2 tsp onion powder

1 to 2 tsp salt, to taste

1 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp white pepper

3-1/2 C nondairy milk

1 C agar flakes

1/2 C canola oil

1/4 C light (yellow or white) miso

2 Tbs lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Place cashews in a large-sized bowl of the food processor and finely grind–just don’t let the cashews turn to a paste. Add nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in spices.

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, agar flakes and oil. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease heat to low-medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

With the food processor running, gradually add milk mixture to cashew mixture. Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Next blend in miso and lemon juice. It won’t take long for the sauce to start thickening up. Transfer to a mold. I used a glass bowl, but plastic would be fine, too. In fact, it may work better.


Let it harden in the refrigerator for a few hours—after 3 hours, it still wasn’t quite ready, so I left it over night.

It did not stick to the sides of the mold at all, but there was a tiny bit of liquid on the bottom acting as a suction and the cheese wasn’t budging. I inserted a straw in the middle of the cheese, took it out, creating a hole and then turned it upside down over a cutting board. It came right out. With a plastic mold, you could probably squeeze the sides enough to loosen it enough. Enjoy!


36 thoughts on “Hard Cashew Cheese

  1. just a note: 1 cup of agar flakes is A LOT and where i live, quite expensive. this recipe can be followed exactly the same with A QUARTER of a cup of powdered agar agar, or half a cup of the flakes. because the powder has a smaller surface area than the flakes, you can use half as much of the powder than of the flakes, depending on what is available to you or more economic to buy. otherwise this recipe totally works and the spice ratio can be played around with or added to depending on taste :)

  2. I’ve made this several times now, and it has become a staple in my fridge. I use it in so many dishes, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Thank you so much!

      • Yes, actually I have added black pepper, basil, and rosemary with roasted red pepper to bring to a New Year’s party which turned out great. When I’m just making it for myself though, I tend to keep it simple so I can cut off a slice and use in just about any dish.

  3. Ok I tried it using half almonds and half walnuts, put in some roasted garlic (I prefer it to powder) and cumin seeds (I was trying to mimic a gouda with cumin seeds I use to get before I went vegan).

    Results: well…it does not have quite the same texture as cheese, it’s close but not the same.

    Colour: mine came out a bit more grey coloured than the picture posted, but I think it was due to the fact that the walnuts were not raw, I added a tbs of Tamari because you had mentioned that it needed a extra kick and I did not have light miso on hand but only red miso. I will adjust accordingly next time.

    Taste: generally really good, I think i’ll use less nutritional yeast next time however, and try it maybe with macadamia nuts which are more oily than walnuts/almonds and might make a creamier cheese. Also, maybe mixing in some other spices or herbs. Oh the possibilities!!!! (I’ve missed hard cheese, the ones from the organic store are gross and full of questionable ingredients)

    thanks for the awesome recipe, I’m gonna enjoy it on some Ryvika tonight.

    Talia

    • Thanks for letting me know how it turned out. It’s probably ok to use red miso in place of light miso–I’ve done that with other recipes, and there isn’t a huge taste difference; more so with color. Tamari’s a great choice, though. I’ll bet it’s great with macadamia nuts–you don’t see very many nut cheese recipes using them and I’m not sure why–maybe it’s the cost of them. Did you leave the skins of the walnuts and almonds on?
      I’m going to have to try your versions!

  4. Hey,

    Well the almonds were raw slivered almonds so no skin on those, but the walnuts did have the skins on. I made so much of this cheese it’s gonna take a while to finish. But as soon as I do I’m gonna try it with macadamia nuts and let you know how it turns out.

    Macadamia’s are more expensive but I think they might make a creamier tasting cheese than the almond, walnut version I made. In any case, with the money I save by not buying dairy or meat I’ll invest on some macadamia’s. I can’t wait.

    Ever thought of making a mozzarella version?

    thanks again for the recipe

    • Wow, you have me intrigued with the macadamia nuts . . . I may have to just try it. I have no idea how to make it into mozzarella, but I’m always up for a challenge! Thanks for keeping me posted and we’ll have to compare notes when we try it with macadamia nuts! Thanks!

  5. Hi! Thanks for the recipe. I made this yesterday and the consistency is that of tofu. Is that what it’s supposed to be like? Kinda spongy? Thanks.

  6. Hello again,

    as promised keeping you updated on my experimentation.

    I tried the recipe with macadamia and walnuts. OH MY!!!! yummy, yummy!! also added some yellow mustard and turmeric. Turned out great, looked exactly like cheddar cheese, but tasted a little too mustardy for my liking. My sister said it reminded her of hot dogs, haha. Next batch will be just macadamia nuts and some horseradish mustard with turmeric. I also thought of maybe sticking some green olives that have the red pepper inside into the cheese, this way if you cut a slice of cheese you could see sliced olives.

    will let you know how the next batch turns out. I also wanted to send you pictures but not sure how to do that.
    ;)
    Talia

  7. HELLO!!! Sorry for the late reply, school’s been crazy. Yes. I pretty much used half and half of the walnuts and macadamia and followed your exact recipe, but added 1 tbsp turmeric and 1 tbsp yellow mustard. I would not put in the yellow mustard again it was way overpowering, maybe I would used dijon mustard instead; maybe omit the mustard all together. I have been trying to get the exact texture of cheese, you know that bite that cheese has, but alas, to no avail. Maybe there is no exact way to do it. I had purchased a soy based cheese from a store that has that texture dead on, but there are a bunch of questionable ingredients…potassium monofgfgdsgfsghgahfg… can’t even pronounce it. Maybe some things vegans just have to learn to let go of…snifff, sniff. In any case, I am super happy that I could make a healthy vegan alternative, that is so yummy.
    I would have loved to have sent you the pics, but I checked your answer after I finished the one I made. I will definitively send you pics of my next concoction with the recipe.
    :)
    Talia

  8. Does anyone know if safflower oil can be used instead of canola and unsweetened almond milk? Rice milk has a thinner consistentcy so was just wondering. Would love to try this cheese. Seems so healthy. :-)

  9. My mom gave me a case of my favorite milk–unsweetened almond milk–so was thinking of ways to make different foods w/ it. This cheese can be one of them. Thanks for any reply.

    • I use almond milk as a sub for anything needing milk. I think it tastes closest to cow’s milk and the consistency is similar, too. You can do a search on my blog for “almond milk” or just “milk” and you’ll get lots of ideas. :)

  10. Thanks for sharing this great recipe. I am definitely going to give it a try using organic almonds as I have five almond trees in my garden and just harvested this years crop. I noticed one reader mentioned agar agar flakes is very expensive. Same here in South Africa as it is only available at health shops. I did a little research online and found that it is also known as China Grass. I finally found some at an Indian spice shop at a much cheaper price. Seems just because the health shop classifies it as a specialty item they load the price.

  11. Hello everyone, i have just tried to do this cheese. Now it is in the fridge to set. My boyfriend is cheese lover but it is very hard to do non dairy cheese with similar taste. I will update you how he liked this one. I just wanted ask if there is any change to get anything else to substitute agar agar as it is very expensive in Portugal. And seems to be thickening fast so maybe it is not needed as much? I wanted to cut on that one but i did not cause i was not sure how much solid it will stay. Anyone had experience with that?

    • Ok my cheese is done and we tried, but does not taste much as normal cheese. Maybe stil good for grating, or melting over something or in lasagne.. But on crackers it didnt have any taste. Anyway everyone has different taste for food. Nice to try stuff.

      • Hey, sorry for my delay in response about the agar flakes. Yeah, they are certainly expensive! But I’m not sure what else to use in place of them as a thickening agent–at least one that would create a hard “cheese.” And I agree with you—I think I mentioned in my post how the cheese needed an extra punch and more flavor. I do think, however, that it works well shredded, such as on pasta, pizza, nachos, etc. I wonder if you could melt chunks of it in a saucepan over low heat and make a sauce? Then you can season it and use it a pasta/nacho/etc topper. I guess that defeats the purpose of making “hard cashew cheese” but I suppose it’s better than not eating it at all! Hopefully it wasn’t a wasted effort for you!

  12. When I went to buy agar the powder was even more expensive than it used to be, $20 for a small box at a small Asian shop near me! The sticks of agar were a fraction of the cost, around $4, and I figured I could make it work. You have to break the sticks in pieces, soak in water for 5 min, wring them out and then add to the liquid you wish to thicken and cook it. They dissolved nicely. I also added 1 Tbs. of agar powder since I had that in the cupboard. The cheese thickened nicely, but it is a bit bland. I used cashew milk as my “milk”, and I halved the recipe. It melts nicely but I think it is a little sweet, maybe too much cashew?

    • Great tips on the agar! And I think you’re right–too much cashew; I have always found that cashews are on the sweeter side. I’m not sure how to “liven” it up (taste-wise) once it’s already made, but some readers have suggested trying to top it with fruit, wrap it in phyllo and warm it a little, like brie. It might be worth a shot.

    • Funny story: last week I made a cheese with regular soya milk instead of unsweetened. Bleurgh! If you wanted a tangier cheese, you could add some tomato purée…but why improve on perfection?

  13. Wonderful recipe! I made it this afternoon, and saved some of the mix for spreading on toast (that in itself was divine). But oh, oh, oh, the finished product! So tasty, such a beautiful texture! My partner, who was a huge fan of cheese before he went vegan 5 months ago (and he had only ever eaten really expensive cheese–no supermarket brands for him) said it was one of the best cheeses he has ever tasted. It was really hard to stop eating it, but I had to leave some oatcakes to have it with my glass of wine this evening. Thank you, thank you, thank you! (I want to hug you! Can you tell how happy I am?)

Leave a Reply