Monday 24 October 2011

VT Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

It started with a trip to the city to buy cheese cloth!  No.  It actually started earlier with a quaking in my boots at the very idea of trying vegan cheese.  I avoid draining anything in cloths.  Too time consuming.  I also haven't had much luck with getting a creamy texture from cashews.  A new blender and a recommendation gave me the courage I needed.

My aim was to make vegan goats cheese.  That is cheese made without any animal products, rather than cheese made from the milk of vegan goats.  Just so we are clear!

Even buying cheese cloth was a challenge.  The recipe said cheese cloth.  I went to a fabric shop and asked to see cheese cloth and muslin.  I was surprised at how different they were.  I got one of each.  If you are as ignorant about cloths as me, you may find the above photo interesting (cheese cloth on left).  My mum said I should have just used a tea towel.  But when I am out of my depth, I tend to follow the recipe closely. 

Unless I make mistakes.  Which I often do.  I soaked and blended and dumped the mixture into my cheese cloth.  It was very firm.  Well, cheese is firm, I reasoned.  The recipe said to strain out liquids.  Mine wasn't about to release any liquids.

It was only the next day that I remembered that I didn't add the extra 2 tablespoons of water (as well as leaving out a bit of oil).  Did that make a difference?  The mixture still tasted strongly of salt and lemon.  Sharp!  I worried some of the saltiness should have drained away.  I washed my cheese blob that was fastened in the cheese cloth.  Still very little water came out.  Even after a few more hours.

I searched for others who had made itVeg-Am had already made it this Vegan MoFo.  It was reassuring to read someone who had made it a few times advising that liquid does not always drain out of her mixture.  In fact, mine didn't look or taste terribly different after 12 hours of draining.  See photo above.

Then the recipe called for shaping into a log.  Easier said than done.  I mushed mine into a long slick (for want of a better word).  It looked pleasingly creamy.  Then I rewrapped it with the same cloth and used the cloth to help me shape the log.  I put it in the fridge to cool even though I wasn't sure how necessary this was.

Even baking the log was not easy.  It was to be baked at 100 C.  My oven only goes as low as 120 C.  And the oven flame went out a few times while baking it.  Possibly as a result of the oven going out I baked mine for closer to 1 hour than the 35 minutes.  On one side of the log, the cloth was dry but it was still slightly damp on the other side.  I finally took it out when I thought it might dry out too much rather than when the cloth was evenly dry.

I was a bit half-hearted about rolling it in black pepper.  Next time I will coat it more thoroughly.  The cracked pepper is great with the tangy salty taste of the cheeze.  I was unexpectedly smitten with this cheeze.  I've never been a huge fan of goats cheese and I think I prefer the cashew version.  It is tangy and salty but smooth and easy to spread.  I have enjoyed it on salad, pumpkin scones, pizza and in a sandwich.

This is not a quick recipe.  It requires planning ahead.  It requires lots of patience.  It took me almost 48 hours to soak the cashews overnight, blend, drain, chill and bake the mixture.  But it is worth the effort.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe
This time last year: Potluck, Salad and Car Trouble
This time two years ago: Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times
This time three years ago: Lysy’s smoky burgers

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese 
From Vegetarian Times, 1 April 2009
Makes 10 oz or about 280g

3/4 cup raw cashews
6 tbsp canola oil (I used 4 tbsp)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp tahini
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

1. Cover cashews with water in a medium bowl and soak overnight.

2. Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again. (Oops, I only drained once!)  Purée cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 tbsp water in food processor for 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. (I read that it really makes a difference to do it for 6 minutes so I timed it and got a sore hand because I was using the little food processor bowl that comes with my hand held blender so I had to hold the blend button down for 6 minutes!)

3. I simmered my cheesecloth in boiling water for 20 minutes, wrung it out as much as possible with rubber gloves and hung it on the clothesline.  Then I placed a strainer over the large saucepan and lined it with (damp) cheesecloth folded in three.  Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth.  I didn't read the instructions to make it into a log and fasten two ends with two rubberbands and I just made mine into a round with one rubberband securing the ends of the cheesecloth together.  Sit in strainer over bowl for 12 hours.  Discard any excess liquid but don't worry if there isn't any.  Chill (I left mine in the fridge a few hours).

4. Preheat oven to 100 C (200 F). Line baking tray with baking paper. Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. (Easier if you make it into a log in the first place!)  Rewrap, and twist ends to secure. Place on lined baking tray. Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally.  Mine took 50-60 minutes.  Cool.

5. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle with peppercorns and press them into the cheese - roll the log on the peppercorns that scatter on the ground. Chill and keep in the fridge.  Mine only lasted a few days because it was too good to hang around long.

On the Stereo:
Mothermania: Frank Zappa

This post is part of Vegan Month of Food October 2011.  Go to my Vegan MoFo list for more Vegan MoFo posts.


  1. wow it looks like so much work, but it was so tasty.

    Btw, I nominated you for a liebster award!

  2. I think making my own cheese PERIOD is daunting, let alone vegan cheese! Sounds like it turned out deliciously though...even with all the stress over cloths and draining.

  3. Holy vegan cheese! I cannot stop staring--this sounds incredible! Can I come over and steal a slice?

  4. Hehe, I like to hear about the stories behind the making like this one. It's oddly comforting to know that others totally freak out sometimes too :) Looks like you didn't have anything to worry about, though. It looks great.

  5. I can never get my nuts as smooth as I would like with my blender either. I keep waiting for the current one to die so I can upgrade.
    I think this sounds delicious, and perfect to go on a sanga.

  6. oh my - I am so very impressed! And vegan onetheless! I have always been too apprehensice to try and make my own !

  7. That looks lovely, I bet it is great.

    I wonder waht it would be like with a huge dollop of miso in it too?

  8. All I can say is you did a stellar job, it looks so perfect! When I am brave enough to give this another try, I will definitely be referring to your post. :)

  9. I love both real goat cheese and cashew-based anything. Looks great for spring too. This is definitely going to my bookmark list!

  10. My lack of having a cheesecloth or knowing where to find one is exactly why I've never made a cheese like this. So you just went somewhere like Lincraft? Your recipe looks SO good I'm going to have to sort this out :)

  11. Wow, that is quick a complicating process. I am sure it is worth it if it taste real good.

  12. Sorry, I mean quite a process not quick (typo error).

  13. Thanks K - it is was more planning than work - which isn't my strong point so I was glad I got myself started early - thanks for the award too

    Thanks Joanne - this vegan cheese is easier than doing all the curds and whey stuff - that is far more daunting!

    Thanks Jeni

    Thanks Cara - it is all gone - don't know how it went so quickly! otherwise of course you would be welcome to a slice

    thanks foodfued - I love back stories too - find them helpful when I go back to a recipe and it is a nice story arc to overcome the obstacles :-)

    Thanks brydie - yes great on a sarnie - I have found that the little blender attachment to the my hand held smoothie works so much better than my food processor for this sort of thing that I am using it more and more - highly recommend one

    Thanks Lisa - I have avoided it for a long time but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as hard as I expected

    Thanks Helen - it was so tangy and salty that I would worry the miso would push it over the edge - if you reduced the salt and lemon it might be great though

    Thanks Mel - hope you have a better experience next time

    Thanks Cindy - I have never been much of a fan of real goats cheese so I was quite pleased with this cashew version

    Thanks Quay Po Cooks - I guess it is complicated though it is not too difficult - but you are right that is is not quick :-)

  14. This cheese looks pretty good to me - especially on bread!

  15. I need to get some cashews! My husband (a vegetarian, but not quite vegan) is on a cheese hiatus. I am hoping this is a permanent thing and maybe a little fake goat's cheese would encourage him. ;D

    Thanks for the Leibster Blog award nomination. I'll try to post about it and nominate some more blogs soon.

  16. It is a lot of work, but so glad that it turned out for you! I love that stuff <3

  17. I gave this post some link love on the blog today!

  18. Yum!! You're inspiring me to try making my own cheese. I don't like goat cheese either so this vegan version is much more appealing to me. You did an outstanding job!


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