Ready for another vegan cheese recipe guys? This one rocks!
It's a camembert with a delicious sundried tomato flavor, naturally coated with a white fluffy rind.
I wanted to share this recipe with you sooner but it took me a while to tweak each ingredient. My main problem was that the cheeses were way too salty because I was using store-bought sun-dried tomatoes, usually packed with salt. To fix this problem I decided to make my own salt-reduced sun-dried tomatoes. It takes a bit longer to prepare but at least you know (and can brag) you made everything from scratch!
It's garlicky, cheesy, savory, packed with tomato flavor and has a very soft and creamy texture. You know my favorite cheese recipe to date is the Hickory-Smoked Aged Cheese, but in all honesty, this one comes very close. And doesn't it cool? I love the contrast of the red inside with the white rind.
What you need
This recipe requires only 10 natural, whole ingredients. If you have ever made vegan camembert, you will see the base remains the same: cashews, cultures, and water. What changes is the addition of dried tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and onion. The addition of dried tomatoes also gives the cheese a super creamy texture. So, here is what you need to make this cheese:
- Raw cashews - It makes the base, giving the cheeses a rich and creamy texture.
- Fresh tomatoes
- Thyme & Oregano
- Nutritional yeast - Slightly increases the cheesy flavor.
- Garlic and Onion powder - Complement the tomatoes.
- Penicillium Candidum – The mold responsible for the fluffy white rind.
- Acidophilus probiotics or Mesophilic Culture - These cultures give the cheese a tangy flavor.
- Salt - Essential for taste and to prevent bad molds from growing.
The recipe starts with the tomatoes. Why make your own dried tomatoes? The main reason is to control the amount of salt. For my first tries, I used store-bought sun-dried tomatoes, the kind that is stored in oil. The problem is that store-bought ones are very salty, and since we have to salt the exterior of the cheese for better mold development, it results in an extremely salty, unpleasant flavor.
Making your own dried tomatoes is very easy. You quarter the tomatoes, remove the pulp and seeds, and season with some thyme and oregano. Then bake for 4 hours at 200°F. You can make the dried tomatoes ahead of time, they will keep for up to 6 weeks covered with oil in the refrigerator.
Once your tomatoes are ready, it's time to prepare the cashew cream. Add the cashews, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion, and water to the bowl of a blender or a food processor and process until smooth. The addition of nutritional yeast is optional but brings more cheesiness.
Next, you stir in the cultures and penicillium, and blend again. 90% of the work is now done!
Finally, fill three springform pans or large cookie cutters with the cashew cream and let it firm up a bit in the refrigerator for 3 days. I usually use metal food rings like these.
After 3 days, the cheeses will still be very soft, this is totally normal. What you are going to do next is sprinkle salt all over the surface of the cheeses. Salt will do three things: 1) Prevent bad mold from appearing. 2) Boost the development of the white mold, also called penicillium candidum. And 3) Remove excess moisture from the cheeses, making them firmer.
Once your cheeses are salted, it's all about patience! For the next 2 weeks, you will age the cheeses covered in the refrigerator (or in a room at a temperature of 50-56°F), and flip them every day. You should always keep the cheeses in a container, or covered with a bowl or glass. By covering the cheeses, we keep enough moisture to let the white mold grow. If you don't cover the cheeses, the exterior will dry too quickly and the mold will never appear.
The aging step will take approximately 3 weeks. It's ready to eat after around 2 weeks but becomes stronger in flavor after another week, patience is worth it!
After 10-14 days, your cheeses should be fully covered with the white mold! You can now wrap them in cheese paper and let them age for another week (or two) before eating. The longer you let them age, the stronger the flavor will be.
Honestly, have you ever seen a dairy camembert like this?!
This recipe can be a fun project to do during the holidays, and the result is delicious! It can be served simply with french bread, and/or on a cheese platter with nuts, grapes, and dried fruits. I'm sure a glass of white wine like Chardonnay would go very well too 😉
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
PS: Thanks to everyone who is tagging their cheese creations on Instagram, I love to see your cheeses!
Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Camembert
- 10 fresh large tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups raw cashews soaked overnight
- ¾ cup packed dried tomatoes drained
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 and ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 5 tablespoon water
- 6 capsules acidophilus or ⅛ teaspoon mesophilic culture
- 1/16 teaspoon penicillium candidum
- sea salt
- optional: ¼ cup chopped dried tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 200°F (94°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Rinse the tomatoes under cold water, pat them dry. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the core. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, thyme, oregano, and salt. Stir to coat.
- Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet, cut-side up. Make sure to leave space between each one, you don't want them to touch each other. Depending on the size of your oven, you might have to use two baking sheets.
- Bake for 4 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. To store: transfer the dried tomatoes to a container and cover with canola or sunflower oil. Dried tomatoes will keep for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.
Preparing The Cheeses
- Drain the cashews and place them in a large glass bowl. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, pour the water directly onto the cashews. Let sit 1-2 minutes and drain the cashews again. This step will help kill possible bacterias.
- Place the drained cashews in the bowl of the blender or food processor. Add the dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and two tablespoons of water.
- Blend on high speed, scraping down the sides from time to time, this step might take about 10 minutes depending on your blender. You want a very smooth, yet thick texture. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until smooth. Do not add too much water or the cheeses will be very hard to handle during the aging step.
- Open the probiotic capsules and add the powder to the bowl. You can use mesophilic culture starter instead if you prefer, both will work. Blend for another few seconds.
- Add the penicillium candidum and continue to blend for another 10 seconds. If your penicillium candidum is in liquid form, use about ⅛ tsp.
- Once your mixture is smooth, transfer to a clean bowl. At this step, you can stir in some chopped dried tomato pieces if you want more texture. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth touching the mixture, this will prevent the top from drying. Let the cashew cream ferment at room temperature for 12-36H.
- After about 12 hours, taste the cashew cream. It should have a slightly sour taste, like fresh cream cheese. If it doesn't and still has a strong cashew flavor, let it sit on the counter for another 12 hours.
- Once cultured, remove the damp cloth and cover with plastic film to touch. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Once cold, the cashew cream will be slightly firmer, easier to work with.
- Line a baking sheet, or large flat plate with parchment paper. Place 3 4-inch springform pans on top (without the bottom). I used food rings like these. Cut strips of parchment paper and lay them in the pans to cover the sides, alternatively you can cover the pans with plastic film if you prefer. The goal is to prevent the cheese from touching and sticking to the metal. Fill the pans with the cashew cream and press it down using plastic film so it doesn’t stick to your hands. Make sure the surface is flat.
- Cover each cheese with a glass or plastic container, I used small glass containers but you can also use bowls. This is essential to keep enough humidity and allow the mold to grow. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator, or in a room at a temperature of 50-56°F (10-13°C). I recommend setting the temperature of your fridge at its highest, around 50°F (10°C).
- Every day for the next 3 days, carefully flip the cheeses. The cheeses will still be very soft, like cream cheese. This step is the most difficult, but don’t worry they will be easier to work with after a few days. I usually use a plate lined with parchment paper to flip them. You don't have to leave them in the pans at this step, but it can be helpful to flip them. Always place the cheeses back in the refrigerator after flipping.
- On day 4, sprinkle about ¼ teaspoon of salt over the top of the cheese, flip it and sprinkle another ¼ teaspoon on the over side. Rub with your finger to distribute the salt evenly on each side and on the sides. Do the same with the other cheeses. Cover the cheeses with the containers and place them back in the refrigerator.
- Continue to flip the cheeses every day for the next two weeks, leaving them covered in the refrigerator all the time. Always use clean hands or work with a plastic film to be sure you are not touching the cheese. The mold will start to appear on day 8-10 depending on the humidity and temperature of your fridge. Once the mold has started to appear, you can transfer the cheeses to a grid or bamboo mat to let the mold grow better (still leaving them in the refrigerator, covered). After another week or so, the cheeses should be fully covered with white mold.
- Once they are completely white, wrap the cheeses in parchment paper or cheese paper and place them in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. The longer you let them age in the refrigerator, the stronger the taste.
- Enjoy with bread, crackers, pesto, nuts, or even jam. The cheese will keep for at least 1 month in the refrigerator.