Friday, December 28, 2012

Pumpkin Seed Cream Cheese

Yes. I did.  I made cream cheese from pumpkin seeds.

I'm embarrassed to say that it was not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be.  Being dairy free means that traditional cream cheese is not an option.  Our house is also soy free, which means that all of the substitute cream cheese products on the market are also out of the question.  I had been toying with the idea of making my own from coconut milk, and even stumbled across a recipe that sounded intriguing, but then my daughter developed a coconut allergy.  *sigh*  I have often seen vegan recipes that use cashews to make cheese, but of course we are also nut free.

And then it hit me. Why not substitute seeds for the nuts, and make a faux cream cheese from pumpkin seeds?!  Why did this realization take so long?

I have given it a few test runs, and this is my final draft.  If you taste it immediately after blending the tang is a bit intense, but trust me.  Let this chill overnight and you have a spreadable delicious alternative to cream cheese.  The flavor will mellow.  A beautiful creamy spread with a hint of sweetness and a slightly nutty flavor will tantalize your taste buds.  Spread it on your favorite bagel, or use it in recipes that call for cream cheese frosting.

Me? I couldn't wait to put it into my vegan gluten-free pumpkin roll. Oh. My. Yes.

Pumpkin Seed Cream Cheese

1 c pumpkin seeds, soaked 2-12 hours at room temperature*
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 water
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp irish moss gel
1 single serve envelope DariFree, or your favorite powdered dairy replacement (about 3 tsp)

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes.  You may need to use the tamper to help get this started blending.  I began with 1/4 cup water and drizzled the rest in until the desired consistency was reached.  Remember that this is a cream cheese, it should not be fully liquified in the blender.  (I use a Vitamix, so I was able to get a very creamy finished product.  In some blenders you may need to blend longer, or you may have a less smooth end product.)

*Soaking seeds: I put 1 cup of pumpkin seeds into a glass bowl and cover with cold water.  No need to measure, just add enough that they are covered by about 1/4 inch.  Allow them to sit out at room temperature until they sprout, about 2 hours.  It won't hurt them to sit out all day.  I then drain and rinse the seeds before using them.  I have been known to drain and rinse, then put into an airtight storage container and toss them into the fridge until the morning. Don't skip this step though!  It helps to make the seeds more easily digested and makes them blend more smoothly as well.

This recipe is vegan, gluten free, soy free, peanut and tree nut free, dairy free, coconut free, top 8 free, and delicious.  Enjoy.

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