Cheese. Cheese dip. Cheesy pizza. Cheese logs. Love it all! Or I used to love it. Until I went vegan. Then I bounced around trying a few dairy-free brands of cheese and they were all pretty much the same: horrible. Luckily, nowadays there is a few fabulous vegan cheese brands – but really, cheese in general is not exactly health food – both the dairy and non-dairy versions contain fat (sometimes a lot of saturated fat too) and processed base ingredients. But cashew cheese contains nuts as the base – nutrients, fiber and healthy fats are built-in! So lets check out a cheese that’s just plain nutty: cashew cheese! Lets get nutty with cheese dip – here’s my Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip recipe!..
You don’t have to be vegan to love cashew cheese! It’s made from nuts and has a sophisticated, rich creamy bite that is reminiscent of traditional cheese. The high fat content in nuts provides depth and creaminess. Nut cheese is incredibly easy to make once you know how. To get started, check out my Cashew Cheese How-to post here.
Then lets get creative and try a new recipe for nut cheese today: Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip. This dip is sweet and warm with spice flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip
vegan, makes 4 cups
1 can 15oz. pumpkin (unsweetened, pure)
2 cups raw cashews (soaked and drained)
1/2 cup water (use soaked nut salted water)
1/4 cup maple syrup (sweeten to taste)
2-3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (you can use olive or pumpkin seed oil as well)
1/2 tsp sea salt (salt to taste)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or orange/tangerine juice for a warmer, less zesty flavor)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne (add more for extra spicy pumpkin dip)
optional: blend in additional soaked pumpkin seeds
1. Soak the raw cashews overnight in salted water. Drain, but reserve the water for use in the dip.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
3. Add the drained cashews, pumpkin, maple syrup, lemon juice, oil, salt and spices to a food processor or high speed blender,
4. Add the water in a few splashes at a time. (If you are infusing the water with saffron, as I mentioned in my Hot Dip Tip, be sure to add in that step) Add more if needed. You want to process the cheese into a thick texture – a bit thicker than hummus. Process until the desired texture is reached (at least 2 minutes on high).
5. Do a taste test. Add in more spices/salt/sweetener/lemon juice as you see fit. You can also add in additional flavor changers like harissa for a smoky/spicy taste. Or crushed sage for a warm herbed flavor. Or extra black pepper for a peppery flavor. As i said above, you can also substitute the lemon juice with orange juice for a mellower, warmer flavor. I used lemon and loved it though.
6. When your flavor is perfect, pour your cheese into your baking serving dish. Sprinkle a few modest spices on top. You can also top with a few pumpkin seeds as a nice garnish. The seeds will toast up nicely in the oven. Shallow dishes will result in a firmer/drier end product. Deep dishes will keep your smooth creamy texture.
7. For a shallow dish, bake at 250 for 50+ minutes. For the deep dish where you only want to warm the center and crisp the top you only need to bake at 250 for 20-30 minutes. The cheese dip will dry out the longer you bake it. The more you bake cashew cheese the more familiar you will get with your baking preferences.
8. Plating. Serve warm. You can also chill and firm up in the fridge if you’d like a cold pumpkin cheese dip. I enjoy both options. Serve with veggies, crackers, bread cubes. You can also add a drizzle of oil and/or maple syrup over top the final serving cheese if you’d like.
Devour this dip!!
Another recipe: Spicy Harissa Cashew Cheese! Harissa is one of my favorite ingredients. It is smoky and spicy and has a rich tomato flavor that warms up almost any recipe. I add it to pasta, salads or spread on bread like butter or hummus. Warning it packs a spicy punch! Proceed with caution. So when you add harissa to cashew cheese you come away with a lovely flavor that is a perfect faux cheese appetizer.
And if you really want to try an aged cashew cheese that has a tangy cheese-like bite to it try Dr cow’s Cheese!