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