Vegan Smoky Cheddar Cheese Spread (perfect with fall apple slices)

All is right with the (culinary) world when I have a crock vegan cheese spread in our refrigerator!

I never found just the ceramic crock I was looking for–you know, those old-fashioned glossy dark brown ones like you’d find on restaurant tables back in the day?–so I gave up and purchased glass ones at a kitchen shop.  As it turns out, I’ve decided they are more practical because I can see which type of cheese spread is inside, and that could be any one of a number, as I have many favorites.  You can find them ere on this blog (just search cheese spread, “cheez” etc.) and in my Blooming Platter Cookbook.  But, while the crocks may not have been exactly what I had hoped  for, the cheese spreads are!

When I was developing recipes for the cookbook last year, I was wracking my brain for an ingredient that would make my cheeses cheesier with more of an “aged” or “fermented” taste.  And suddenly it hit me:  beer!  I grabbed one out of our garage fridge where my husband keeps his protein drinks (ick!) and beer, and whipped up a batch.  Now, I never make cheese spreads without it.

This version takes its rich golden-orange color and subtle smoky flavor from turmeric and smoked paprika .  It is is perfect spread on a crisp and juicy apple slice or on a cracker and topped with a thin slice of fresh apple.  I love our local Winesap apples for this, but use your favorite.

Though I think my spreads are best after they ripen in the refrigerator for a few hours, I like to remove them a half hour or so before serving, as I think the flavor opens up when the spread isn’t too cold.

Yield:  approximately 2 cups

2 cups roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces

1/2 cup vegan beer or non-alcoholic beer (you may add more to reach the consistency you desire)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon light miso

1 small clove garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or to taste

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste

1/8 teaspoon onion powder or to taste

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or to taste (add enough to taste but not overwhelm)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Accompaniments: Sturdy crisp crackers like Melba toast and apple slices lightly sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent oxidation

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  This will take several minutes.  Scrape into an airtight container and ripen in the refrigerator for several hours if time allows.  If not, you may serve it immediately and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.  If the spread has been refrigerated, allow it to sit at room temperature for a half hour or so before serving.

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6 comments

  1. Oh what a great appetizer for a party. Love this.

  2. I’m so glad, Heather! Indeed, we had friends for dinner–uh, that sounded cannibalistic and certainly not vegan, so let me try again!–we had friends OVER for dinner on Saturday night and that’s what I served for the app. They loved it and they are as omnivorous as my husband, who really liked it too.

  3. I made this about two weeks ago and I was shocked at how good it was. The beer was a stroke of genius! I made 1/2 recipe and I kept it in a little crock. Then every time I had a “snack attack” I spread some on rice crackers. This is the first time in a couple of years that I didn’t miss putting cheese on the crackers. This spread was truly satisfying.

  4. Karen, you made my day: I’ll take shockingly good any day of the week! That beer was a desperation move. When I was working on my cookbook, I just new there had to be an ingredient that would give nut- and bean-based cheeses more of that fermented/aged flavor and it hit me! I’m truly thrilled that you approve. I keep mine in a crock too–where did you get yours as mine were hard to find and not exactly what I wanted?–and do like you. Stay tuned for an upcoming post. I made some cashew cheese and a pear-dried cranberry chutney for a meeting. From the leftovers, I made a grilled cheese and chutney sandwich that was KILLER! Take care!

  5. Hi 😀
    Can I use something instead of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos? I’m from Denmark, and we don’t have such fancy stuff here…..
    btw this is an awesome blog, I use it a lot! thanks 😀
    //Anna

  6. Greetings from the U.S., Anna! Thank you so much for your very generous feedback and, yes, absolutely, you can substitute one of the following for the Liquid Aminos: soy sauce, tamari, or shoyu. Tamari, as you probably know, is a Japanese soy sauce that is darker, a little thicker, and a bit richer tasting than your garden variety soy sauce. And tamari is another Japanese sauce that is made from both soy and wheat. Note: If you can find a “lite” brand of soy sauce, it will contain less salt. Thanks for asking and happy cooking!

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