As a vegetarian I used to make a similar dish using a soft brie or camembert and, as with most things, I refuse to let my change in diet limit my food opportunities. This is one of my alternative solutions to the dairy version, a healthier and happier vegan non-dairy cheese. And it involves deep frying, which means it must be good. Okay, so mostly healthy (frying really isn’t that bad for you so long as you use decent oil and don’t overheat it. I tell myself this).
My recommendation is to serve this simply on a bed of rocket (arugula) leaves with a dollop of blackcurrant or lingonberry (yes, I’ve been to Ikea recently) jam. Cranberry works too. Pretty much any leafy greens will complement this vegan side and it makes a lovely light lunch on a spring afternoon.
If you want a more tart flavour in this vegan cream cheese recipe, try adding some vegan yoghurt or lemon juice and upping the nut content to compensate for the additional moisture.
Hazelnut Encrusted Vegan Cheese
- Preheat at least an inch of oil in a wok (or user a deep fryer if you have one) to a medium temperature of around 150-175° C (300-350° F).
- Mix the the cornflour and hazelnuts in a bowl or on a small plate. Set aside.
- Combine the cheese, nutritional yeast, cashew, garlic, salt, and chives in a small bowl. Spoon heaped tablespoons into a ball and roll in the hazelnut mixture to cover. Flatten slightly into a thick disc shape. If the consistency seems too runny, add some more ground nuts (but don’t worry about it being too solid; once rolled in the nut mixture it’ll stop being sticky and will be more manageable).
- Place the cheeses into the hot oil, frying for about a minute or two until just browned. Flip if the oil doesn’t cover the top. Remove with a slotted spoon, allowing as much oil as possible to drain off. Serve hot on salad or on its own.