Coconut Cream Cheese…?

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I experiment with recipes a LOT.  As you’ll start to see in some of my videos, I legitimately have no clue what I’m doing when I’m making up recipes.  Sure, I have experience cooking for the last 20+ years, but nothing professional.  I’ve never had any training besides what my mom taught me when I was little and she fully supported mine and my brother’s desire to just make shit up in the kitchen and see what happened.  There were disasters.  Lots of them.  I think my brother had a little less of a concept of what went well together than I did, so he made a few more questionable foods than I did.  But I do remember over seasoning a batch of green beans with oregano to the point that it gave my mom a headache and she just had to walk away.  

To this day, I think I rarely use oregano. 

I make a lot of good food, but I really do just make it up as I go along.  But this… this cream cheese idea was over my head.  I’ve never made any kind of cheese, other than vegan nacho cheese made from cashews so I had no idea where to even begin with this.  So I Googled, as any reasonable person might do.  Turns out making cream cheese from coconut isn’t all that popular.  I haven’t really ventured into making it from cashews yet, but I specifically wanted to figure out how to do this for a couple desserts I wanted to try.  So… how do you make cream cheese?  Cream and a Mesophilic starter culture.

What?

See?  In over my head.  Ugh.  Google… work with me here!  WTF does that even MEAN? /sigh.  BRB.

googling

Okay, so… turns out cultures are essentially bacteria that help the cheese… uhm… culture.  It basically turns milk into cheese.  Okay, so now what kind of “bacteria” can I use to “culture” coconut cream?  Are these starter cultures vegan?  I never could get an answer to that last question so I started thinking, what other bacteria could I use?  Aren’t probiotics considered “good” bacteria?  Couldn’t that work?  *Google searches again* Okay, so turns out I was actually on the right track; someone HAS done this before.  So… let’s see what happens?

Round 1!

So while I was looking for coconut condensed milk for another recipe, which I didn’t find, I found this Coconut Cream from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to play with.  I figured I could make condensed milk from it, if anything, along with a few other exciting items.  The only difference is that this had a couple more ingredients besides guar gum, but I figured what the hell, let’s just try it.  

Coconut Cream Cheese

I had to buy probiotics since I drink Shakeo and don’t have to take them anymore.  I found some that were 1.5 billion CFUs and mixed 6 capsules worth with 1 14oz. can of coconut cream.  There was *maybe* a tablespoon of water at the bottom of the can after being in the refrigerator and since the original recipe asked for 16oz, I didn’t worry about it being exactly 10 billion CFUs.  Popped it into my nut milk bag, and put it in a strainer over a bowl and into the oven it went.  

Coconut Cream Cheese

I was a little impatient and, instead of waiting 24 hours, I waited 21. I got as much of the cream out into a container as I could, salted it and put it in the fridge to solidify for a few hours. 

So here we go.  Coconut cream cheese.  Did it really taste like cream cheese?  I mean kind of.  It had a very similar texture and the salt helped take away most of the sweetness from the coconut.  Will it work for the recipe I need it for?  Probably.  But I’m not 100% sold.  So let’s try it with lemon juice this time?  

Round 2!

In order to prevent too many variables from making the outcome different, I used the same coconut cream and only added a 1 3/4 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  I did put it in cheesecloth instead of the nut milk bag this time, but I put it in the same strainer and over the same bowl in the same oven.  I think I will actually leave it in for the full 24 hours this time.  I don’t think that made a difference in the last batch, but I also started this one at 11am so it will be easier to let it go the full time rather than me getting out of bed early.  🙂

So I left it in for the full 24 hours this time and folks, I may be wrong about the timing, but I think it made a difference.  It was much thicker this time.  The previous batch was a little more like a whipped cream cheese, but that could have also been the timing in the mixer, too.  That being said, the taste was a bit too lemony.  It wasn’t bad by any means, and I really think, depending on what you’re using it for, both recipes were good.  BUT… here’s what I did.  Because I liked bits and pieces from both batches, I mixed them.  Considering I was going to end up doing it anyway for the recipe I needed this for (stay tuned for that tomorrow!) I figured, why the hell not, let’s see what it tastes like.

Guys.  It’s perfect.  It had the right amount of tang, perfectly creamy, great texture.  I love it.  I’m SO excited to use this more often now!  So… here’s my final recipe suggestion:

Ingredients:

1 can of full fat coconut cream, chilled in the fridge or freezer for a couple hours
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
5 billion CFUs of probiotic powder

Take out only the solidified part of the coconut cream and throw out the liquid (or use it for something, just don’t include it :).  Mix coconut cream with a hand or stand mixer to soften a bit and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix for up to 2 minutes or until everything is blended.  Put mixture into a nut milk bag or cheesecloth in a mesh strainer on top of a bowl to catch the liquid as it sits.  Let sit in a cool, dark area for the FULL 24 hours.  

After 24 hours have passed, remove from cheese cloth in an airtight container and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before using. 

Depending on what your preferences are, you may want to try the first two recipes first, but I really loved the combination of the two.  Thanks to the originator of those two recipes for giving me somewhere to start because I really wasn’t sure this was going to end well!

Wanna see what this was used for?  Check it out tomorrow for Dairy-Free Cereal Cheesecake!

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