“But how do you live without cheese!”
If you’re vegan (or lactose intolerant) you’ve probably heard that at least once, or a thousand times. Thankfully, there’s been some really amazing vegan chefs who have made our cheeseless existence quite tolerable. Miyoko Schinner, Jay Astafa, Somer McGowan, and Skye Michael Conroy, have all taught me some valuable tips on vegan-cheese making. I actually took the inspiration from this from Richa Hingle at Vegan Richa. Her vegan cheddar cheese ball came across my feed around Halloween and I knew the flavors would be perfect for an adaptation of my mozzerella aquafaba cheese. The original recipe that I drew inspiration from for the cashew mozzarella was developed by Jay Astafa. You can watch the YouTube video here. I noticed he uses soy lecithin as an emulsifier, which aquafaba has been shown to do in recipes like Nina’s butter and Peanut Butter and Vegan’s mayo. This inspired me to make the cashew mozzarella using aquafaba as the emulsifier.
Vegan cheese doesn’t create casein protein strands like dairy cheeses do, which is why we use tapioca starch to create that stretchy texture. Some places may have it labeled at tapioca flour, but they should be interchangeable. I find mine at an international market for a cheaper price. I use vegan lactic acid powder to create that dairy-like tang in this recipe. It’s definitely worth the purchase, but if you cannot buy it, substitute a tablespoon of lemon juice instead. Since cheddar has a significant tang to it, I include apple cider vinegar as well as miso paste. Nutritional yeast also adds to the cheesy flavor. Refined coconut oil helps with firmness upon refrigeration and improves the mouthfeel and melt.
Most vegan cheeses use either agar or kappa carrageenan as a binder to be sliceable and shreddable. I choose to use kappa carrageenan, as I prefer the melt and mouthfeel it imparts. I am well aware that many people choose not to consume it and I completely respect that; this recipe may be possible with agar powder, but I have not tested it. If you do test it, please contact me with your results!
• 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled for 15 minutes
• 1 cup aquafaba (preferably chickpea or other light colored bean)
• 2 tbsp tapioca starch
• 3 tsp kappa carrageenan
• 1/2 tsp lactic acid
• 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
• 2 tsp tomato paste
• 1 tsp miso paste
• 1/2 tsp onion powder
• 1/2 tsp paprika
• 1/4 tsp turmeric (for color)
• 3/4 tsp salt*
• 6 tbsp refined coconut oil, liquid
• 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
*You may need to adjust the salt level a bit lower if using salted aquafaba.
1. Blend softened cashews and aquafaba in a high speed blender until as smooth as possibly. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large particles and return to blender. It should be very smooth after blending. You may find there are still a few cashew particles if you’re using a lower quality blender or food processor, which is why I recommend straining.
2. Add tapioca starch, carrageenan, lactic acid, tomato paste, miso, onion powder, nutritional yeast, paprika, turmeric and salt and pulse in a blender to combine.
3. Add coconut oil and blend again very briefly. Mixture will be smooth and a little thick.
4. Heat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat while stirring regularly. It will look like quite lumpy as the tapioca starch activates. Continue to stir, and it will eventually turn glossy and smooth, like melted cheese. When it reaches 170°F, it is done. You will see it begin to bubble around the edges and maintain its thickness. Quickly add the apple cider
vinegar and remove from heat. If your emulsion breaks (the oil starts to separate), remove from heat and stir quickly to recombine. If it’s already too far gone, you can use an immersion blender to combine it again.
5. Pour into a mold. Refrigerate for a few hours to fully firm up the cheese before slicing or grating.