Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Unbrie Cheese

A friend gave us a random issue of VegNews magazine recently with a really intriguing cover.  It was all about artisan vegan cheeses to make at home.  However, when Matt flipped to the pages indicated on the table of contents the entire article was ripped out.  Apparently we were not the only ones who thought it looked like an intriguing  article.   So I got a copy of the article through interlibrary loan.  Oh my, am I glad I did.  We can make vegan brie now!  Vegan brie tasty enough that Matt's very much omnivorous brother, Ryan, said it tasted "pretty much the same as what mom made,"...and he isn't one to just say things like that to be polite.   (I haven't eaten traditional cheese in so long now that I take Ryan's word on its similarity more than my own, in fact.)

But, I don't want to call is vegan brie.  I think that Unbrie cheese has a nice sound to it.  Don't say it like Un-Brie.  Say it like one word, maybe a French word--Unbrie. Unbrie cheese.  I think its better.

Matt's mother tends to serve oven warmed brie at Christmas and so this year Matt decided he would, too.  Baked until it was warm and gooey and served with crackers was just overwhelming to me in how awesome it was.  Warm, salty, gooey, melty, tangy goodness--on a cracker to boot!  I seriously don't think I can describe my pleasure adequately.  It was so rich and wonderful. 

I am very impressed with this cheese making.  It is so interesting to try the cheese as it works its magic sitting on the counter.  The flavor noticeably changes and improves.  We've tried three of the recipes in the article, but so far this one is the winner for me.  It makes me want to eat it every day.  But, I'm not.

Unbrie  (1 six inch round)

1 C raw cashews
1 C water
1/2 C plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
1/2 C refined coconut oil
1 t nutritional yeast (aka nooch)
1 1/4 t salt (divided)
2 T tapioca flour
1 t agar agar

Soak cashews for 24 hours and drain.  Combine in a blender with water, yogurt, oil, nooch, and 1 t salt.  Process until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Cover with a towel.  Let sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, tasting occasionally for desired flavor.  Pour into medium saucepan.  Whisk in flour and agar.  Heat over medium.  Stir frequently.  Cook until its thick and starts to pull away from the side of the pan.  It should be about five minutes.  Line a 6 inch pan with cheesecloth.  Pour in hot cheese.  Let cool in fridge for four hours, until firm on the outside.  The inside will still be softer.  Remove cheesecloth.  Wet hands and sprinkle with the remaining salt.  Rub over cheese.  Place on wire rack and let rest 24 hours.  Flip cheese over and let rest 12 hours until it appears dry.  Store in fridge up to two weeks or longer if frozen.

It is important to get refined coconut oil or else the cheese has a slight coconut flavor.  This we discovered first hand.  It was still good...but definitely weirder...like cheese with a mild coconut flavor.    Matt couldn't remember which the recipe called for when he went to the store and went under the assumption that we are a sort of "unrefined" food type people.  So that was what he bought.  We subsequently learned that refined equals doesn't taste like coconut anymore. 

I am shocked to find I don't have any photos of any our wheels of unbrie.  We made a half dozen of them after all!  At least I took some of the cashew cream cheese.

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