Cooking with Cashew Cream

Cashew cream is perfect to use as a vegan sub for some dairy products.

Thanks to a composition that's low in fiber and high in starch, cashews can be blended with water to create a thick, satiny “cream” that we've found works beautifully as a vegan sub for sour cream and mayonnaise in creamy salad dressings. But what about cooking with this ersatz dairy?

It turns out that you need to take care in how viscous you make the cashew cream. While true cream gets thinner and more fluid when you heat it because the tiny fat globules that make up more than 35 percent of its bulk melt, cashew cream gets thicker. That's because heat causes its plentiful starch particles to swell and gelatinize. The fix is to make sure that your cashew cream is a little thinner than the dairy it's replacing. Thinned to the right consistency, cashew cream brings a rich smoothness to everything from chowder to creamy pasta sauces. (Note: If you use cashew cream in sweet applications, you'll need to sweeten it to better approximate the sweetness of real dairy.)

To make cashew cream base: Process 1 cup raw cashews in blender until cashews resemble fine gravel mixed with sand. With blender running at low speed, add ¾ cup hot water and process until combined, about 5 seconds. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes to hydrate nuts, then process on low speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of blender jar and process on high speed until mixture is smooth and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes.

To substitute for 1 cup heavy cream: Mix ¼ cup cashew cream base with ¾ cup water.

To substitute for 1 cup half-and-half: Mix 2 tablespoons cashew cream base with ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water.

This Cream Thickens With Heat

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