The BEST Vegan Cream Cheese with a smoky black pepper flavor! Always a hit at parties. Is made from cashews and surprising acidic ingredients and is just 8 ingredients. Completely oil-free and dairy-free!
2tablespoons (30g)non-dairy unsweetened unflavored yogurt (I highly recommend the almond kite hill yogurt, it is VERY creamy and rich. Don't use a low-fat brand.)
1 1/2tablespoons (23g)fresh lemon juice
1/2teaspoonapple cider vinegar
2teaspoonsdill pickle juice OR 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar, which really aids in the cream cheese flavor
1/4teaspoonground black pepper (increase to 1/2 teaspoon for a strong peppery taste or omit)
1/4 + 1/8teaspoonfine sea salt
I trialed this recipe many times before arriving to the above recipe that I and others absolutely loved, so please don't sub any of the ingredients or change the process below, especially the acidic liquids, as they are the key to this cream cheese flavor. You can leave out the black pepper if you want a more basic cream cheese, but I wouldn't suggest leaving out the liquid smoke, as it does add an extra tang as well, helping to camouflage the cashew flavor. You can customize this with other flavors by adding chopped chives, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes. Have fun with it!
Important: You MUST soak the cashews for a minimum of 12 hours and use a food processor. A fast boil or quick soak will NOT WORK. You'll need to prep this 2 days before you want to eat it, for the best results. You should literally be able to crumble them after soaking, that's how soft you want them. They become extremely soft this way and is how the whipped texture and super creaminess comes about. Even the flavor is better this way. This recipe uses very little liquids, so trying to skip the long soaking method will affect the results. You want the nuts very soft. A food processor is how to get the specific texture, again because very little liquid is used. A blender WILL NOT WORK. So, add your cashews to a bowl and cover with warm water and leave to sit on your counter overnight. Drain them the next day and rinse very well. Shake off excess water.
Add the soaked/drained cashews, water, yogurt, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to a food processor and process until a paste forms. Scrape the sides a couple of times and process again. You want it relatively smooth, but it doesn't have to be perfect since we are processing again.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, liquid smoke, pickle juice, nutritional yeast, pepper and salt. Process for several minutes. I'm talking, walk away for a couple of minutes and come back. Scrape the sides down and process once more. DO NOT add more water or you will dilute the flavor. You want that stuff silky smooth and a whipped like texture. Refer to photos above for a visual.
Once it's completely smooth, transfer to a glass container and store in the fridge overnight. It will thicken and firm up some and get really chilled, making it perfect for your bagel in the morning. You will experience the full flavor and texture after it has chilled overnight. Be patient my friends. Enjoy!
Nutrition: I didn't really know how many servings to state this as, since it will be dependent on how much you load the cheese on your bagel or the purpose you use it for, but it will give substantially enough for at least 6 bagels, so that's how I calculated it.