Last year Vegetarian Times did a feature with a couple of nut-based cheeses: an almond "feta" and a pepper-crusted cashew "goat" cheese. I am a huge fan of both varieties. They're creamy, somewhat crumbly, and nice on crackers or baguette slices. But this time of year I just feel like having something pretty and red and slightly sweet. (What can I say? I'm a sucker for the holidays and I love cranberries.) So, using the same method as in the VT recipes I came up with a cashew cheese that screams "holidays" to me. Even though this recipe is super easy, it takes a while to make--so plan ahead if you're making this for a party. Enjoy!
Cranberry-studded cashew cheese
1 cup cashew pieces, soaked overnight in water
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Combine the cashews, lemon juice, wine, oil, and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, then add the cranberries and pulse a few times to chop the berries a bit and combine everything. Line a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Spoon the cashew mixture into the cheesecloth and form into a round. You don't have to be super precise here. Anyway, fold the rest of the cheesecloth over the mixture and allow to sit at room temperature for about 24 hours.
After 24 hours or so, preheat your oven to 200 F. Take the cheese round from the cheesecloth and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Reshape if necessary into a small wheel. Bake for 40 minutes (just to dehydrate, really) until the top and sides are slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until ready to use.
To serve, cut into wedges or spread on crackers.
And congratulations to the winner of my holiday giveaway! With a number picked by random.org, the goodies go to... Beth (#18)! She says
Homemade baked goods are my favorite. Vegan, of course! And your caramels sound AMAZING!
Check your email, Beth! All I need is a mailing address for you and I'll get these in the mail!
*PS- Those hydrangeas? Rug Rat and I are doing the old "see how flowers suck up water" science experiment--but holiday-style with white and red. Because why the hell not? (And yes, most of the time those are kept well out of reach of the kids and my furry friends. I don't really feel like replacing my carpet less than a year into living here!)