Vegan Aged Camembert Cheese 3.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Sep 27, 2017

This plant-based version of the classic French cheese has only five ingredients and is fairly uncomplicated — it just takes patience.

By using traditional cheesemaking practices, including the addition of penicillium candidum — the agent that allows the vegan camembert to grow a signature coating of mold — this nut-based version is surprisingly close to the original in flavor and appearance.

Read the directions all the way through for special equipment needs.

To read the accompanying story, see: Astoundingly good cheeses that everybody — yes, even nondairy folks — can eat.

Make Ahead: The cashews need to be soaked for at least 5 hours, and up to overnight. The cashew cream needs to be refrigerated for 4 hours. Allow at least 2 weeks for the cheese to ripen; the aged cheese can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Where to Buy: Penicillium candidum and mesophilic can be ordered online from www.cheesemaking.com. Vegan acidophilus probiotic capsules can be found at most grocery and health food stores in the vitamin aisle.


Servings:
3 four-inch rounds or 2 six-inch rounds

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 3 four-inch rounds or 2 six-inch rounds

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds (about 4 cups) raw cashews
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (from about 8 capsules) vegan acidophilus probiotic or 1/8 teaspoon mesophilic (see headnote)
  • 1/8 teaspoon penicillium candidum (4 drops if using liquid; see headnote)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Directions

Soak the cashews in water for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Drain the cashews, discarding their water. Rinse them under cold water and place in a blender with the filtered water (as needed). Open the probiotic capsules and measure out 1/2 teaspoon, then add the powder to the blender, along with the penicillium candidum. Blend on high speed, scraping down the sides from time to time, for up to 10 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and creamy; you can add a scant tablespoon of water at a time if the mixture becomes too thick to blend, but be careful not to add too much water so that the mixture becomes loose (see NOTE, below).

Transfer the thickened cashew cream to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 day to allow the mixture to ferment. After the cashew cream has fermented, refrigerate it for 4 hours.

Line a clean baking sheet and three 4-inch (or two 6-inch) springform pans with parchment paper; make sure the sides and bottoms of the springform pans are completely covered with the parchment paper, or you can also use plastic wrap as a liner. Fill each pan with the mixture and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Place the pans on the baking sheet and cover with an inverted plastic box.

To age the cheese, let it sit on the tray covered with the box at room temperature at 52 to 56 degrees; the cheese can also be aged in the refrigerator, but it may take a little longer for the mold to grow. The entire process can take as long as 3 weeks.

For the first 3 days of aging, carefully flip the cheeses each day, by inverting the mold, turning the cheese over and reinserting it into the mold. Make sure your hands are very clean or handle the cheese with plastic wrap.

On the fourth day, carefully remove the cheese from the pans and sprinkle the sea salt over the entire surface of each cheese. Place back on the baking sheet and cover with the box, and continue to turn each day. On the seventh day, place a bamboo mat on top of the baking sheet and put the cheese, which should be much firmer, directly on top of the mat before covering with the box. The bamboo mat will allow for more air circulation.

Continue turning each day for the next week. The mold should appear after 5 to 7 days and continue to grow until the cheeses are fully covered with a white rind. After two weeks, wrap the cheeses in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 days to allow the flavor to continue to develop. The cheese will keep for at least 1 month in the refrigerator.

NOTE: If the cashew cream does become loose, wrap the mixture tightly in a cheesecloth. Place in a colander over a bowl and put a weight on top, then let it drain overnight before proceeding.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Thomas Pagot at FullofPlants.com.

Tested by Kristen Hartke.

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