Plant-based Cheddar Cheese (Revisited)

Last time I made Michelle Blackwood’s Vegan Cheddar Cheese, I lamented about the ratio of agar powder to water.

Well, tonight I decided to try the recipe again, as it is a good recipe, just not my all-time favorite so far. And, I’ll stand by my thoughts on the agar powder ratio, and my final verdict, again!

But, just to help you get inspired, I’ve taken a few more pictures on my journey tonight.

To recap, here’s Michelle’s recipe:

Vegan Cheddar Cheese

Prep Time10 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cheese
Calories: 118kcal
Author: Michelle Blackwood

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water for mixing with agar powder
  • 2 tablespoons agar powder or 2 teaspoons kappa carrageenan
  • 1/2 cup water for mixing with other ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cashews raw
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper chopped, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil optional
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon non-gmo cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper optional

Instructions

  • If using a high-speed blender, add water, cashews, bell pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, coconut milk, coconut oil, tapioca starch, cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.
  • Process until smooth and creamy.
  • Mix cold water with agar powder in a saucepan, bring to boil on medium stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat and immediately add to cheese sauce.
  • Process until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into an oiled container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Alternatively, especially when using a regular blender, process all the ingredients including agar powder in a blender until smooth. Pour sauce into a non-stick sauce on medium heat whisking constantly until thick and bubbly. Immediately pour into an oiled container and refrigerate for an hour.

Notes

I find the consistency of the method using the high-speed blender better. This recipe is not like storebought processed vegan cheese. So it’s not as firm. Yes, it slices and shreds but not like storebought and tastes amazing!
The recipe calls for agar powder, if using agar flakes, use 3 times the amount instead.
If you prefer a sharper flavor then add extra lemon juice

I was making a double-batch, as I do have a large blending container, and if I’m going to go through the work and mess to make it happen, I might as well make enough to matter! And, although not awesome, it does freeze “okay.” So if I don’t use it, in the freezer it’ll go!

Doubling each ingredient (except that coconut oil, which I again avoided, and the first water and agar powder listed), I added them to my blender container and blended for about 1 minute, starting off at slow, but quickly working up to high.

Plant-Based Cheddar ingredients
All ingredients added to high-speed blender and blended about a minute.

Next, I heated the agar (which I forgot to double, but, forgetting that I had the agar/water ratio problem, added another tablespoon for good measure. So I had 3 T of agar powder and 1 cup of water.

Heating the agar powder and water, stirring almost constantly.

Once the agar mixture was super goopy, I added it to the blender, and blended for about a minute again. Previously, I had prepared my tiny loaf pans to create my cheese blocks. I still love my idea of lining the loaf pans with plastic wrap, and can’t understand why you’d do it any other way! It makes for super easy cleanup; just fold the plastic wrap neatly over the cheese, and turn upside down to dump out!

Tiny loaf tins lined with plastic wrap.
Tiny loaf tins lined with plastic wrap for easy cheese wrapping and cleanup!

Working quickly once the blender stopped, I poured the goopy cheese into my loaf pans, and then simply popped them into the refrigerator.

Cheesey loaf ready to set!
Many cheesey loafs ready to set!

This was fun, and I was excited that my double recipe created 4 loaves! But, then I got to wondering, would that coconut oil really make a noticeable difference?

Now, here at the Plant-based Bear, we don’t use oils, really, at all. But the recipe calls for the coconut oil. Why put the ingredient in there for no reason, as I’ve had success without it? And, the amount of oil is quite high. But, against my instincts (or perhaps just resolve) I decided to do it anyway.

(The Plant-based Bear doesn’t use oils at home, in general, but acknowledges they’re almost impossible to not have when dining out. So, from time to time I do have some oil, although I still try to avoid oily foods and everything deep-fried. I guess this was to be one of those times.)

After repeating the whole process for my new batch and then waiting for everything to get cooled in the refrigerator, it was taste-test time!

I neatly folded over the plastic wrap, then turned over and dropped the loaf out of the pan. For longer storage, I still keep everything in zipper bags, or airtight storage containers in the fridge.

Neatly fold the plastic wrap over the loaf, and then lift out of the pan, and turn over!
It’s ready!
The no-coconut-oil cheese seems fine, and slices easily, and tastes great! Notice more bubbles, particularly in the shadows.
The coconut-oil-included cheese looks about the same, but slightly lighter in color (which probably has nothing to do with anything), but seems a bit smoother, with fewer air pockets.
Closeup of coconut-oil cheese to show a slightly smoother, less bubbly cheese, than without the coconut oil.

The coconut-oil cheese tastes identical, however, it does seem to have a smoother, less bubbly texture. The mouth feel is the same, although it’s slightly smoother there, too, more like Velveeta or something. It’s also possible I simply blended this batch a little bit longer.

So, to coconut oil, or not to coconut oil? NOT! The Plant-based Bear will still continue to NOT use oil as much as possible, and this experiment proved, that again, it’s simply not necessary for the amount of downsides.

Now, I have 8 little loaves of cheese for my upcoming weekend trip. I realize that sounds like I’ll only be eating cheese all weekend! But, I will take a couple of loaves on my trip, along with some homemade whole-wheat bread to makes sandwiches or whatever! Delicious!

PBB