Peppered Cashew Goat “Cheese”

Goat's Cheese

I thought I’d kick off Vegan MoFo with some vegan cheese!  If it weren’t for cheese, I think a lot of people could easily go vegan.  I used to LOVE cheese.  Who am I kidding – I still do!  I just don’t let myself eat it anymore.  Growing up in the Midwest, so close to that Wisconsin cheddar, I certainly had my share of it.

There are some good vegan cheese “substitutes” out there, like Follow Your Heart, Sheese, Tofutti, Teese and Daiya.  For me, they work in a pinch, and some are better than others for different purposes.  One thing I’ve yet to find though, is a great pre-packaged vegan cheese that you can just eat with crackers – and actually serve to non-vegans without them thinking it tastes weird.

Back in July I wrote about the Vegetarian Times Almond Feta recipe.  There’s also a recipe for Cashew Goat Cheese in that issue, and I’ve been meaning to try for a while.  Goat cheese was one of my favorites, so I had really high hopes for this recipe.  I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed.  I actually liked this more than the almond feta!

I’ve made this recipe three times now – once for friends that we were having over for dinner, and then for a little get together for Ryan’s birthday.  Everyone who’s eaten it has LOVED it – and that’s a bid deal since non of them are vegan!  It doesn’t taste exactly like goat cheese, but it tastes so good that you won’t care.  I can’t recommend this enough.  I’m so happy that I have something to combat my cheese cravings with.  Yes, it’s got fat in it, but so does real cheese!  You shouldn’t be eating it all the time, but it’s a pretty awesome treat.

Before I get to the recipe I want to mention I’d read that some people who’d made this had problems with it firming up.  The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of leaving out the tahini – I didn’t have any on hand, and I’m not a huge fan of it anyway.  I didn’t have any problems with the firmness factor. For the next two batches I reduced the oil a bit.  I blended one of the them for the full six minutes, and it was the perfect texture – creamy, but it held together.  I didn’t blend the second batch for the full time, and it was much harder to work with.  It never really firmed up, even with a longer baking time.  So make sure to blend this for the full six minutes, unless you’re going to use it in another recipe.  I ended up doing that, with great results.  I’ll post about it tomorrow!

Here’s the version of the recipe that I made.  Because of the soaking and draining times, you do need to plan ahead for this.  Like the Almond Feta, it may seem complicated, but it’s actually really easy to make if you’re just patient.

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese (adapted from Vegetarian Times)
makes 10 ounce log

3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water.  Soak overnight.

Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain again.  Puree cashews, oil, lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor for 6 minutes, or until smooth and creamy.  [Make sure to blend for 6 minutes for a firmer texture.]

Place strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth.  Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth.  Fold sides of cloth over cheese, and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf.  Twist ends of cloth and secure with rubber bands.  [Don't worry if you can't get this into an oval loaf shape.  Even if it's more round, it'll still work just fine.]  Set in strainer over bowl, and let stand 12 hours at room temperature.  Discard excess liquid.  Chill.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap cheese, and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth.  Rewrap, and twist ends to secure.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake 35 minutes, or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally.  Cool, and chill.

Unwrap cheese.  Sprinke with peppercorns, pressing to adhere.  [I just used fresh cracked pepper over the cheese.  You could also roll this in herbs or paprika, like this.]


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121 Responses to “Peppered Cashew Goat “Cheese””

  1. Thanks for your quick reply – I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. This is a neat recipe! I followed it without deviation and the results were pleasing. I haven’t eaten real cheese but 6 years so maybe it is really salty and I’ve just forgotten but this recipe just seems to have way too much salt. I would even consider halving it if I plan on eating it with salted crackers. Thanks!

  3. Giving this a try now. It’s wrapped up in cheese cloth and draining now. Looking forward to tasting it!

  4. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  5. Looks great! 2 questions:
    -can you use a different veg oil rather than canola?
    -it’s ok to bake the roll IN the cheesecloth?

  6. Hi, Hema! You should be able to use another type of oil, but you’ll just want to be aware that certain oils will be more strongly flavored, which will affect the taste of the finished product. I’d use something really mild in place of the canola. And yes, you can bake it right in the cheesecloth. The oven temp is so low that it’s not an issue.

  7. Made this for a Thanksgiving appetizer & while the taste was outstanding, it didn’t quite set up right. I did mix in the food processor for 6 minutes, & perhaps a bit longer, wrapped in cheese cloth & left it to drain over night. In your experience how much moisture does it release? Mine released just one small drop! After following the rest of the directions & baking it, etc. the end result was more of a creamy soft spread. Is it supposed to be more dry & crumbly like real goat’s milk cheese? All in all, it definitely delicious & I cannot wait to try to make it again! Thank you!

  8. Thank you so much for this recipe. I used it for Thanksgiving and everyone (which consisted of mostly omnivores) LOVED it. I think it was the favorite appetizer. :D

  9. Hey, Melissa! Yes, the texture is more creamy than crumbly like a traditional goat cheese. Like yours, mine never releases much liquid, but it definitely sets up enough to be formed into a log and rolled in the pepper. I’m glad you liked the recipe!

  10. You’re welcome, Casey! I’m glad to hear that it went over well!

  11. Hi
    are the oven settings listed in fahrenheit or celsius?
    can’t wait to try this !

  12. Hi, Anna – everything is in fahrenheit.

  13. hi! this is awesome. how long will it keep in the fridge, do you think?

  14. Hi, eve! It should keep for a few days I’d think, though I never have it around long enough to know…

  15. Hi, I made this recipe and I loved it. I did a post on it and gave credit to your blog. Thank you very much for posting this, it is a beautiful recipe.

  16. Hi, Vinny! You’re very welcome, and thanks for crediting my blog.

  17. I made this to recipe but added a couple of tablespoons vegan cashew yogurt that I had made earlier in the day (I reduced the liquid in the recipe by a little bit). I did this to let the cheese cure just a little with some active cultures. This became my cheese eating hubby’s new favorite cheese. It disappeared very fast!

  18. Hi, Sherry – thanks for the yogurt tip. I’ll have to try that next time!

  19. this is my FAVORITE vegan goat cheese recipe!! i’ve even used macadamia and pine nuts and it came out fabulous!! (i actually prefer it with some pine nuts and/or mac). i could eat the whole thing myself!! ;o) thanks!!

  20. You’re welcome, Natalie! I’ll have to try it with pine nuts and macadamias – sounds tasty!

  21. This sounds wonderful, especially with the layers. Do you know if you can freeze this? I’m looking at using this at a baby shower for a few vegans that will be coming. (with other recipes)I’d also like to try it out before I serve it there. I’d like to make a few things ahead of time so I’m not so pinched on time. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks

  22. Hi, Marcy! I’ve never tried to freeze this, so I’m not sure if it would work. You start the process a day or two in advance though, and you do very little on the day you actually serve it. You don’t have to bake it if that would make things easier. I hope that helps!

  23. This is amazing! I run a vegan kitchen for work, and try different cheeses all the time. This one, everyone loved! 15 people, loved it, and there wasent any left. Great job!!!

  24. Hi, marriah! I’m so glad it went over well. Thanks for letting me know!

  25. I just started eating a plant-based diet a couple weeks ago and the only thing I’ve missed is cheese. This is FANTASTIC!

    I don’t have a food processor so used my VitaMix. It seems to have blended it so well that virtually nothing has drained and it was already like room-temp cream cheese. The only modification I made was using applewood-smoked salt – YUM!

    Thank you!

  26. So glad you liked it, Kim! I bet it was great with smoked salt – I’ll have to try that.

  27. Wow, will definitely have to try this. Am always looking for a good cheese recipe (not crazy about store bought vegan cheeses) and this peppered one looks delish.