I guarantee you that anyone who’s ever said “I could never give up cheese” will love this sunflower chèvre (a vegan version of goat’s cheese). It’s decadently creamy, full of cheesy, umami flavour, with a perfect tang that hits the spot.
When people say they’re hooked on cheese, often what they’re really after is the salt, fat and complex flavour profile. But animal-based cheese comes at a considerable cost to the environment, to our health and to animals. Cheese-making uses a huge volume of milk, and each kilogram of cheese uses about 5,000 litres of water through its manufacturing cycle (this is a global average). It’s also loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which are not good news for our heart health. Finally, the dairy industry just sucks.
Thankfully, we don’t need animal milk to make great cheese! I’ve been making this soft cheese for years, using cashews. Mostly for special occasions, since it takes a little effort. Cashews are pricey though, so I’ve switched to sunflower seeds instead, and it’s just as good! (If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know this isn’t my first time switching out cashews for sunflower seeds: try my Sunflower Mac and my Creamy Lime Bars!)
This recipe requires a bit of planning ahead: you need to factor in the soaking time, ageing time and cooling time. It also requires a food processor to get that creamy texture (I don’t think a blender will work, since the mixture is too thick).
The resulting chèvre, however, is always a hit.
Sunflower Chèvre-style Cheese
- Food processor
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tahini
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium-sized bowl, cover the sunflower seeds with hot water and soak for at least 2 hours (or soak overnight in room-temperature water).
- Place the sunflower seeds in a food processor along with the garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, tahini and salt.
- Process for about 5-8 minutes, pausing a couple times to scrape down the sides with a plastic spatual.
- While the food processor is running, drizzle the oil one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is nice and creamy.
- Place a large piece of cheesecloth, folded over into three layers, over a strainer (or use a nut milk bag). Transfer the mixture to the cheesecloth, fold over the cheesecloth and twist to close.
- Leave the cheese to stand for at least 6 hours (up to 12 hours) at room temperature – this is the 'aging' part.
- Chill the cheese in the fridge for an hour or two.
- Preheat the oven to 90ºC and line a baking sheet.
- Unwrap the cheese, divide it into two, and shape into two little logs (like you'd find goat's cheese).
- Place a single layer of cheesecloth onto the baking sheet, and place one of the cheese logs on the edge of the cheesecloth. Wrap the cheesecloth over the log, and roll it carefully, all the way to the middle of the cloth. Repeat on the other side of the cheesecloth, with the other cheese log. Twist the extra ends of the cheesecloth to keep them out of the way.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, pausing halfway to roll the cheese over for even baking. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge.
- Unwrap the cheese logs, sprinkle freshly-ground black pepper onto a plate or wax paper, and roll the cheese in the pepper to coat. Wrap in wax paper, and store in an airtight container in the fridge.