If you haven’t heard of cashew cream or are just starting out as a vegan and don’t know much about it, I’m about to fill you in. Cashew cream is essentially a emulsification of cashews and water (or another liquid, like non-dairy milk). In terms of replacing dairy cream, I think it has a slight edge over coconut milk because it doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own. I mean, coconut flavored caramel is delightful… unless you hate coconut or are allergic or it doesn’t go with the flavor profile of whatever else you’re eating. That’s when you’re going to want to reach for cashew cream.
Soaking Your Cashews
The first step in making cashew cream is soaking the cashews. There are lots of health claims about the benefits of soaking in regards to the digestibility of nuts and their effect on mineral absorption. But for our purposes, my only goal in soaking my cashews is to make them nice and soft. Soft cashews equal a smoother and creamier finished product.
To soak your nuts, place raw, unsalted cashews into a bowl or measuring cup, and cover them with cold or lukewarm water so the water is about an inch above the cashews (usually about 1 cup of water to 1 cup of cashews). Filtered or distilled water is recommended, but I’ve also just used tap water and nothing bad has happened to me or my cashews. Let the cashews soak in the water for at least 2 hours and up to 12. I usually soak mine overnight.
If you need cashew cream like right now, you can also boil your raw cashews for 15 minutes. Soaking yields better results, in my opinion, but I understand needing cashew cream in a pinch.
Uses for Cashew Cream & Ratios
If you use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to cashews, you can use the resulting cashew cream in most places where non-dairy cream is used. Caramel sauce and candies and chocolate ganache are my two favorite dessert examples. You can also use it in vegan ice creams that are amazingly creamy.
Cashew cream does not whip up like dairy cream. If you want to use it as a topping, use a liquid to cashew ratio of about 1:4 (that’s ¼ cup of liquid for every cup of cashews) to make a really thick cashew cream. And don’t forget to add sugar!
Here’s a handy guide for thickness ratios and their uses. Add each of these amounts of liquid to 1 cup of soaked cashews.
¼ cup liquid = use for topping desserts (in place of whipped cream) or making frostings
½ cup liquid = use for filling fruit tarts or as a soft topping for desserts and fruit
1 cup liquid = use for drizzling on desserts or as the base for a sauce
2 cups liquid = use in place of dairy cream for caramels, ganache, ice cream, etc.
Do I Need An Expensive High Speed Blender to Make Cashew Cream?
The short answer is: no. I have been using my old KitchenAid blender to make cashew cream for quite some time and I’ve never had any problems when the cashews have been soaked and the ratio of liquid to cashews is high. I do have difficulty getting smooth in my standard blender with anything less than ½ cup of water to 1 cup of cashews, though. So if you want really thick cashew cream like you would use for toppings on dessert, I suggest working in batches or using a food processor instead. You might have to scrape down your blender a lot and redistribute the mixture. But it can be done! High speed blenders like a Vitamix handle the thicker cashew creams with no problem, but they are pricey.
- 1 cup (125 grams) raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 cups water or unsweetened nondairy milk
- Cover cashews with filtered water and soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain the soaking liquid from the cashews.
- Place soaked cashews and water (or nondairy milk) into a blender. Blend for 3-5 minutes, until very smooth. Place into a container and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.