Okay so maybe the idea of a nut cream or cheese doesn’t sound appealing right off the bat, but in my experience they are pretty damn tasty.
Originally this post was going to cover a wide array of nut creams and cheeses for various uses, but to be honest … that’s good blog post material and I’m saving the variety for later posts.
Here’s just the basics.
You can take pretty much any raw nut and make it into a cream, but there are a couple that work for this purpose extra well. Cashews and macadamia nuts are both excellent choices.
Make sure the nuts are raw. Not roasted. Not salted. Just raw.
As an aside, if you’re buying at bulk food store, I highly suggest asking to sample the nuts – especially the expensive ones for a couple reasons. First, I’ve bought $26 worth of macadamia nuts from a bin that was mismarked as raw when they were in fact roasted and salted. What a pain in the ass it was to return them too. Second, raw nuts sitting at room temperature – especially nuts with high oil content – can get rancid and nasty. If they’re expensive nuts they may not be huge sellers like say walnuts, so it doesn’t hurt to make sure they’re decent.
Soak the nuts for a while.
Regardless of your recipe and what you want the nuts to turn out like soaking the nuts is important. The length of time you soak depends on what you’re using them for. A chunky cashew cream can sit for an hour or so and blend up fairly smoothly. A super-smooth macadamia nut pate may need to sit overnight.
Discard soaking liquid and use fresh water for the actual recipe.
So once you’ve soaked your nuts, you will want to dump that water. Any amount of water called for in the actual blending of the nuts should be clean cool fresh water. Makes sense, right?
Use a good blender/food processor.
Do not use your Magic Bullet to make a nut cream if you want it smooth. Trust me, I tried this and it was not smooth enough no matter how long I tried blending it. Use a good blender. If I had a VitaMix I’d say use that. (Ahem-hint-Levi-buy-me-a-cough-VitaMix-cough.)
I’ve had good success making nut cheese fairly smoothly in a food processor. I have a pretty heavy duty food pro so maybe that’s why it works well.
Here’s a basic recipe for Cashew Cream. It’s a plain cream – neither sweet nor savory. You can add either elements to it for your purposes.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 1/2 cups fresh water
- Soak the cashews in boiling water for at least 1 hour.
- Drain and place in a high-powered blender.
- Add fresh water.
- Blend on high until very smooth.
- If you are adding any other ingredients, add them in and blend.
- If your recipe requires an extra smooth cream, you can pass the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.