Updated: May 30, 2022
If you haven't yet started stocking cashews in your pantry then now's the time! Cashews are an essential component in plant-based recipe creation due to their versatility. They can be made into a sweet or savory creamy or sauce very easily. You don't have to necessarily soak cashews, however, I find that creams and sauces are much more silky smooth when cashews are soaked in water for 1–2 hours before blending. Cashews can easily be made into cashew cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, alfredo sauce, or as a sweet treat like this vanilla cashew cream that pairs perfectly with fruit crisps, vegan pies, or as a fresh fruit dip.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: none
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours (water should be about 1" above the cashews)
1/2 cup plant-based milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup date paste (See instructions below for date paste recipe. Alternatively you could use maple syrup, but I'd recommend starting with 2 Tbsp and tasting for sweetness. Add more if you'd like.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Drain the soaked cashews.
Place cashews, plant-based milk, date paste or maple, vanilla, and salt (if using) into a blender or food processor.
Blend until smooth.
Taste for additional flavors of your choice (dates for sweetness, vanilla for vanilla flavor) or add additional milk if you’d like a thinner consistency, depending on how you’re using the Vanilla Cashew Cream.
Homemade Date Paste
Adding nutrient-packed natural sweetness to desserts can come from fruit pastes, which are made by soaking dried fruit in water, sometimes with spices or citrus, and then pureeing the thick mixture until smooth. Commonly made from dried dates, figs, apricots, or mangoes, fruit pastes are core ingredients for a plant-based diet.
Prep time: 5 minutes (after dates are soaked)
1 cup dates, soaked in water for 1–2 hours
How to make
Soak dates in filtered water, so that they are completely covered for 30–60 minutes
Add the dates and 3/4 cup of the water to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for three months.
Use as needed to sweeten desserts, baked goods, smoothies, and more!
If needed, add water a bit of water to create the consistency you need. If using the paste in baked recipes, use as little water as possible. If the paste is runny, it will add additional moisture to the recipe and may negatively impact the finished product.
For a different flavor note, add a pinch of ground spice, such as cinnamon or nutmeg.
Add sea salt with a bit of fresh lemon juice.
Add vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod before blending for vanilla-flavored paste.
How to use
Use on top of morning grains.
Use to sweeten smoothies and desserts.
Add to marinades and dressings.
Per serving (4 servings): 320 calories, 26 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams protein, 23 grams fat, 51 milligrams sodium
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