If you wanted to made traditional dairy cream cheese at home, it would be far more time intensive, and likely more expensive, than the recipe below. With this quick homemade plant-based cream cheese, all you need is a few common ingredients, a bit of hands-off soaking time, and a few active minutes with a food processor.
This simple, easy to make vegan cream cheese is made with a good balance of protein-rich tofu and creamy cashews, delivering a nice tang from a mix of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Finished off with a touch of salt, only five whole food ingredients come together to make a terrific spread to grace any bagel you discover is worthy of it.
(And a quick note on bagels: there are few out there that are the real McCoy. I took a special trip well into the next county to purchase these New York-style bagels. We actually tend resort to making our own instead! Too many “bagels” are just bread shaped like bagels—too dense, too dry, not chewy enough . . . . A good bagel should have a nice chew, some moisture, and a bit of air inside. No restaurant chains make the cut, at least in my mind. Just my soapbox ramble for today.)
When you make this cream cheese, get creative and try variations, too! I want to make a chive and onion cream cheese soon, perhaps with some shallots as well. On a blueberry bagel, we paired this plain cream cheese with a fruit jam. I even mixed in some maple syrup, cinnamon, and orange zest for a cranberry-walnut bagel. The possibilities are endless! With this trustworthy base, you can travel all over the bagel universe.
Anyway, I hope you give this recipe a try soon! Fair warning: if you have things to put it on, it won’t last very long . . . .
Makes just shy of 2 cups (enough for 4 to 6 bagels, depending on how generous of a slatherer you are)
Plant-Based Cream Cheese
8 oz tofu (firm or extra firm)
4 oz cashews, dry (to be soaked; measure dry before soaking)
juice of half a lemon
~1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or more, to taste)
a few pinches of salt (to taste)
filtered water, for soaking cashews
- Measure out and soak the cashews in filtered water and a pinch of salt. Give your cashews 4 to 8 hours of soak time (can be overnight, but don’t leave too long or they can become mushy). If short on time, you can soak them for about 30 minutes in hot water. Drain and rinse the cashews after soaking before using.
- In a food processor, blitz the cashews, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times in between, until fairly well broken down. Add the tofu, and continue to process and scrape the sides of the bowl until nice and creamy and a consistent texture throughout.
- Add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Process until fully combined.
- Taste and adjust as needed (optional adding of more apple cider vinegar for tang or salt for overall taste).
- Store in a glass jar or glass container in the fridge. (We ate ours within just a few days! My hunch is that it should be fine for about a week, but will taste best the fresher it is.)
Now go find—or make!—a bagel worthy of this spread.
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