This Pistachio Nut Cheese with Cranberry Jelly can be the perfect festive vegan Christmas appetizer. It is sliceable, so you can enjoy it on toast with veggies or on a cracker. Let’s share it with your family and friends!
As far as appetizers go, we love to make it easy and simple, but distinctive and scrumptious. It is an amazing feeling when you know that you can make gorgeous and delicious appetizers without special culinary tricks. Have you seen our Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels or our Savory French Toast Bites with Bruschetta? And there are even more to come, like our Rainbow Veggie Tray or our Gluten-free Samosas. Stay tuned!
What is a Nut Cheese?
Nut cheese is a type of dairy-free cheese that you make by soaking and blending various nuts and heating them with agar agar to get a sliceable cheese-like texture once the mixture is cooled. They are usually not only dairy-free but gluten-free as well.
In our opinion, nut cheese has nothing to do with dairy cheese. You should enjoy nut cheese on its own merits because they are
- flavorful, and
Nut cheese can be a surprising addition to any cheese board or appetizer platter. If you are maxed out on hummus, cream cheese, and other common veggie dips, and you are looking for something remarkable and unpredictable, try this Pistachio Nut Cheese with Cranberry Jelly.
Why Pistachio Nut Cheese?
You can make nut cheese with every kind of nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia, etc.
We chose pistachios because we wanted to create a festive, vegan Christmas appetizer. Pistachios and cranberries are a match made in heaven and are screaming Christmas from miles away. If you chose this mini silicone bundt mold, the nut cheese will look like a Christmas wreath.
What do you need to make nut cheese?
To make this delicious nut cheese, you need only 9 ingredients.
- nuts -> in this recipe, we used shelled pistachio nuts
- dairy-free milk -> creamier than using plain water (we use our homemade cashew milk)
- lemon juice -> for a tangy taste
- nutritional yeast -> for a cheesy taste
- miso paste -> for a tangy taste
- garlic powder
- agar agar powder -> to set the mixture
- spirulina or spinach powder -> for extra green colour (optional)
How to make Pistachio Nut Cheese?
First, you need to soak the pistachio nuts in hot water for 5 minutes to soften them a bit. Dissolve miso paste in hot water.
Then take a thin and tall container that I got with my immersion or hand blender and add soaked pistachios, dairy-free milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt (photo #1). Blend with a hand blender until smooth (photo #2).
Take a frying pan. Add the blended pistachios mix (photo #3) and bring it to medium heat. When hot, add the dissolved miso paste (photo #4) and stir to combine. Add the optional spirulina or spinach powder for a green colour boost here. Finally, add the agar agar and stir to combine (photo #5). After 5-6 minutes of cooking pour the nut cheese mixture into a silicone mold while it is still hot (photo #6). It sets pretty quickly. LEt it set and enjoy!
How to use agar agar?
It is the vegan alternative for gelatine, which also needs heat to activate it. This means that whatever you would like to set, you should heat it at least on medium / high heat for 5-6 minutes. Unlike using starch, where you can see your mixture thickening immediately, using agar agar you will not see any change in texture. However, agar agar sets quite quickly(!!!) when the mixture starts cooling down. So prepare your mold in advance as you will not have time to search for it later on!
Making it as a Vegan Christmas Appetizer
To make it a truly festive Christmas appetizer, we added a Cranberry Jelly crown on top of our Pistachio Nut Cheese. Here you can grab our quick homemade Cranberry Jelly recipe.
- Make the cranberry jelly and pour ¼ cup of hot cranberry jelly into a 5-inch mini silicone bundt cake mold.
- Wait for it to be set.
- Make the pistachio nut cheese as per instructions below and add the nut cheese mixture while hot on top of the cranberry jelly.
- Wait for it to be set.
Top tips to make perfect Pistachio Nut Cheese
- Hand blender vs Vitamix – You will get a very smooth nut cheese texture if you have a Vitamix. However, you need to double or triple the recipe to make it work there. We found that if we need only one nut cheese bundt, we can totally get the right texture with a hand blender as well.
- Milk or water – Adding water would be a more frugal approach, but the difference between using milk or water is significant.
- Sliceable and spreadable – If you had 1 Tbsp of agar-agar, you get a nut cheese that is really easy to slice. If you want it to be closer to a cream cheese consistency, you should add 1 Tbsp starch instead.
FAQs and Substitutions
Can I use other nuts?
Yes, you can. This recipe will work with almonds, walnuts, macadamia, cashew…, although the color and the taste will likely be a bit different.
Is this soy-free?
No, it is not. Miso paste is made of soybeans. If you need soy-free, then use only nutritional yeast.
This Pistachio Nut Cheese recipe is meat-free, dairy-free and egg-free. It is suitable for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and WFPB (whole foods plant-based) diets.
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Pistachio Nut Cheese with Cranberry Jelly
- First, you need to soak the pistachio nuts in hot water for 5 minutes to soften them a bit. Dissolve miso paste in ¼ cup hot water.
- Then take a thin and tall container (I got mine with my immersion / hand blender) and add soaked pistachios, dairy-free milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt. Blend with a hand blender until smooth.
- Take a frying pan and heat it to medium heat.
- Add the blended pistachios mix and heat it to medium heat.
- When hot, add the dissolved miso paste. Stir to combine.
- Add the optional spirulina or spinach powder for a green colour boost here.
- Finally, add the agar agar and stir to combine. After 5-6 minutes of cooking pour the nut cheese mixture into a silicone mold. Watch out, as it sets pretty quickly. Enjoy!
- If you make this pretty Chrismas Wreath-like Nut Cheese with Cranberry Jelly -> First, make the cranberry jelly and pour it at the bottom of the silicone mold. Wait for it to be set before adding the pistachio nut cheese mixture on top of it.
- Hand blender vs Vitamix - You will get a very smooth nut cheese texture if you have a Vitamix. However, you need to double or triple the recipe to make it work there. We found that if we need only one nut cheese bundt, we can totally get the right texture with a hand blender as well.
- Milk or water - Adding water would be a more frugal approach, but the difference between using milk or water is significant.
- Sliceable and spreadable - If you had 1 Tbsp of agar-agar, you get a nut cheese that is really easy to slice. If you want it to be closer to a cream cheese consistency, you should add 1 Tbsp starch instead.