Monday, April 25, 2011

Cashew Cream

This is the BEST thing to happen to vegetarian cooking, ever! Cashew cream is a versatile ingredient and a vegan substitute for butter, milk or cream. Whipped up with a little vanilla and sugar, it makes a wonderful dessert topping. Added to soups, you have all the texture and richness of cream, without the dairy product. It even makes vegan mashed potatoes just as comforting as their traditional counterparts.

A great dairy substitute
I discovered Cashew Cream in Tal Ronnen's cookbook, The Conscious Cook. Since then, it has become a staple in our kitchen. Freshly made, it will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it freezes well. Freezing can make it a bit lumpy, so give it a whirl in the blender once it has thawed.

Cashew cream is made with raw cashews and water. Raw cashews have little flavor, but with just a little nudge, they happily take on the personality of other ingredients. They contain enough fat to provide the creamy texture needed to fill out many recipes, and they provide a foundation for delightful sauces, soups, and even vegan "cheeses". This recipe is reproduced verbatim from The Conscious Cook. It is also published on Tal Ronnen's web site. If you are not already familiar with his creative cooking, I encourage you to visit.


2 cups whole raw cashews (not pieces, which are often dry), rinsed very well under cold water

  1. Put the cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover them. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional high-speed blender such as a Vita-Mix, which creates an ultra-smooth cream, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve.)
  3. To make thick cashew cream, which some of the recipes in this book call for, simply reduce the amount of water when they are placed in the blender, so that the water just slightly covers the cashews.
Makes about 2 1/4 cups thick cream or 3 1/2 cups regular cream
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus soaking overnight.

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