I saw a recipe in the December issue of Vegetarian Times for Date-Cheese Ball, but it’s made with goat cheese. I decided to make my own version using the almond cheeze I’ve made before. It has a similar taste and texture to goat cheese and figured it’d be a perfect substitute. It was. Plus, the orange zest gave it such a unique flavor. I brought this to a holiday party and it was gone pretty quick. Keep in mind that this recipe takes up to two days to prepare. You could make it in a day if you blanch and soak the almonds in the morning and serve it in the evening.
2 C blanched almonds
1/2 C lemon juice
5 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 C cold water
8-oz Tofutti cream cheese
1-2 Tbs orange zest
2 tsp dried thyme
1 C sliced almonds, toasted
To the make the almond cheese, soak the blanched almonds for about 24 hours in water. Next, dry them off and transfer to a food processor. Puree them with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, water and salt. Layer a fine mesh strainer with a thin cotton napkin (works way better than cheesecloth), and place over a bowl. Pour half of the mixture into the lined strainer and wrap up tightly, then squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Wrap up and secure with a rubber band. Do the same with the rest of the cheese. Transfer to a plate and chill for 8 hours or over night.
(you’ll end up with twice this much almond cheese)
To make the cheese log, cream the cream cheese the food processor or mixer. I used a food processor; either would work fine—I just find that the cream cheese gets blended much better this way. You can then transfer to a bowl and stir in everything else, or continue using the food processor. Squeeze out any more liquid from the almond cheese and add them to the cream cheese along with the orange zest and thyme.
Pulse several times to combine. Layout a long piece of plastic wrap and spread the toasted almond slices on it. Scoop out the cheese onto the plastic, then wrap up the sides to create a log. This will take some finessing, so just go with how you feel most comfortable doing it.
Chill for a few hours and serve with crackers. As we were putting the food out for the party, someone had some blackberries and put them around the cheese—brilliant! Fresh fruit is ideal to accompany this cheese log. I know there’s some time involved in making this, but the steps are very easy and worth the effort. Enjoy!