Dairy Free Vegan Cheese: MozzarellaApril 23, 2015
Another vegan cheese recipe for you!
This time it's the dairy free alternative to mozzarella. Though not quite the same texturally, the addition of agar agar gives the mocks-a-rella (... see what I did there?) a more formed consistency much like a very (very) soft buffalo mozzarella ball.
It can be sliced and served raw, with some fresh tomato and basil as a great dairy free version of a Caprese salad, or sliced and baked atop a pizza or pasta dish. It won't give you the stringy quality baked dairy mozzarella will, but the flavour is delicious.
Rather than use almonds for this recipes, I chose cashews. Their naturally smokey flavour adds an extra depth that results in a cheese so much like a smoked mozzarella I once had at Jamie's Italian, I had a little Eureka dance around the kitchen when I first tried it.
Start off with the recipe for basic vegan savoury ricotta here but use raw cashews in place of almonds.
In addition to the Ricotta you will need:
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
6 heaped tablespoons agar agar- not sure what that is? Check out my Introduction to Vegan Cheese
1 cup almond milk
Add the additional ingredients to your savoury ricotta, mix, then pour into a sauce pan.
Place on a medium heat, and cook through until the mixture bubbles and steams. Keep stirring, the agar agar needs heat to activate and will thicken as it cools.
Cook the mixture on the stove top for about five minutes, stirring continually. It will seems very, very thick which is alright but if it gets to a point that you can't stir it or it becomes dry then splash in a little more almond milk and combine.
Take the pan off the heat and prepare a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it. You don't have to do this but it is fun to make the cheese into the traditional buffalo ball shapes. If you aren't too bothered about your mozzarella looking like dairy mozzarella then simply smooth the mixture into a dish and let cool throughly.
Allow the mixture to cool to a point that you can handle it, warm but not piping hot. Using a tablespoon, scoop a dollop of mixture out of the pan and plop it into the icy water. This will quicken the cooling process and keep the cheese in the ball shape.
The scoops will be quite rough, you can smooth them with your hands but don't over work the cheese in the water as it will start to dissolve, be gentle!
Remove the cheese ball from the water after about 30 seconds and place on a tray covered with a sheet of baking parchment. When you've formed the cheeses, pop the tray into the fridge to cool and the cheese to firm up throughly.
As with the feta, this is never going to form the same texture as a dairy cheese as it can't develop the same structural bonds, as such it won't be as 'rubbery' (I tried to think of a more appealing word but this really is the word that best describes mozzarella's unique texture). It will have the smoothness of it's dairy counterpart, and the cashew's smokiness makes it not just an imitation of a smoked mozz but a delicious and more-ish dish all of it's own.