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Cashews as a Cream Cheese Substitute

Cashews are versatile and offer a wide range of culinary uses. Apart from being key ingredients in dishes like creamy korma and cashew chicken stir-fry, they also serve as a fantastic substitute for cream cheese. This makes them particularly appealing to vegans, those who are lactose intolerant, or anyone wanting a healthful alternative.

Health Benefits:
Though many refer to cashews as nuts, they’re technically seeds. They’re packed with healthy fats, vital nutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, as well as beneficial fiber and plant protein.

Substituting Technique:
The transformation from hard seed to creamy spread is achieved by soaking and blending. The resulting cashew paste, however, is far from the tangy taste of cream cheese. To mimic the desired flavor, additions like lemon juice, vinegar, and nutritional yeast are essential.

Where Can You Use It?
Cashews can replace cream cheese in numerous dishes, but when it comes to baking, it might require recipe adjustments since baking often relies on the specific properties of each ingredient. For example, a cashew-based cheesecake would be best made from a tried-and-true vegan recipe. In contrast, direct substitutions work well for spreads or dips. If you’re making frosting that usually contains cream cheese and butter, you’d want to find recipes tailored to the vegan or lactose-intolerant audience, like the cacao cupcakes with cashew butter icing.

Making Cashew Cream Cheese:

  1. Soaking: This process softens cashews, prepping them for blending. They can be soaked for around four hours or overnight. A quicker alternative is boiling them for half an hour.
  2. Blending:
  • Ingredients:
    • 1¾ cups of soaked cashews
    • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
    • Salt and pepper
  • Method: Combine all ingredients in a powerful blender. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. Garnish with chives for an extra kick.

Cashew cream cheese is not just a superb dairy-free substitute but also an easy-to-make delicacy that can be enjoyed in various dishes. It’s a testament to the versatility of cashews and their capacity to cater to different dietary needs while still offering delightful flavors.

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