Basic Cashew Cream
This basic cashew cream is one of my kitchen staple recipes I recommend no matter your dietary preference. It's such a simple all-purpose ingredient that can be used as a base for creamy sauces or provide a rich, creamy texture to soups, casseroles, desserts, etc, that you typically get from dairy. Depending on the thickness you can basically substitute it anywhere you would typically use cream, yogurt, sour cream or other dairy components. (see variations below!)
While there are numerous dairy-free ways achieve a creamy texture, cashew cream has a very mild flavor that won't overpower the other flavors of your dish as would coconut milk. It's a neutral creamy base that is delicious enough to be used as is or easily made sweet or savory depending on how you want to use it.
Making cashew cream may seem daunting or tedious but I promise you it's so incredibly simple.
All you need is 3 ingredients -raw cashews, water and a pinch of salt - and a little soaking, and it comes together within seconds using a high-speed blender. But don't worry if you don't have a high-speed blender, you can also make cashew cream in a regular blender or food processor. You will just need to soak the cashews a little bit longer and have a little more patience with the blending process.
Soaking the cashews is an essential step. It allows the cashews to become incredibly soft and blend with ease. I find two hours of soaking good enough, but you can always let them soak longer. You can also use a quick soaking method which involves boiling the water first. This is great if you forget to let your cashews soak or you're short on time. Either way, blending for a good amount of time will help ensure an ultra smooth texture.
There are so many variations you can make from this basic recipe. I find 1 cup of cashews to 3/4 - 1 cup of water is the perfect consistency for cream-based sauces. From there, you can add whatever flavorings (sweet or savory) you'd like. Below is my go-to basic cashew cream recipe, along with a sweet and savory version. I've also included some different thickness ranges so that you can experiment with based on your desired use.
Liquid variations for 1 cup cashews:
1/4 cup = frosting consistency like this cashew buttercream
3/4 cup = thick cream, like coconut cream
1 cup = sauce consistency for drizzling
2 cups = heavy cream or creamer
Basic Cashew Cream
An all-purpose cooking component that can be used as a base for creamy soups, sauces, casseroles, and desserts. vegan, dairy-free.
For Basic Cashew Cream
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 - 1 cup filtered water
pinch of salt
For Sweet Variation
1 madjool date
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
For Savory Variation
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic (1/2 teaspoons minced)
Place raw cashews in a small bowl. Add about two cups of water to the bowl and let sit for at two hours.
Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender with 3/4 cup filtered water, salt and any other ingredients if using. Puree until smooth. If you do not have a blender, place in the soaked cashews in a food processor and puree until smooth. Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to use more cashews or scrape down the sides a couple times before completely smooth. Use immediately or store in airtight container in the refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Quick Soak Method:
Place the raw cashews in a heat-proof bowl. Bring two cups of water two a boil and pour over the cashews. Let soak for about 10-15 minutes.
Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender with 3/4 cup filtered water, salt and any other ingredients if using. Puree until smooth. If you do not have a blender, place in the soaked cashews in a food processor and puree until smooth. Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to use more cashews or scrape down the sides a couple times before completely smooth. Use immediately or store in airtight container in the refrigerate for up to 1 week
Note: for the sweet variation the lemon juice is optional but I find the acid helps give the sweetness balance.