Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Cooking for a crowd is tricky to begin with, and that's before you factor in everyone's dietary restrictions and idiosyncracies. These days it's hard to keep track of who's dairy-free, who's gluten-free, who's sugar-free, you name it. And while a host certainly needn't provide for all dietary sensitivities, it feels nice to take into account the needs of your guests. Especially if those needs align with your own!
In my case, I've been doing my best to avoid dairy. As much as it pains me to admit, given the fact that ice cream is my all-time favorite food, the stuff hurts my tummy. So in my exploration of alternatives, I've fallen hard and fast for homemade cashew cream. Lately I've been putting it on everything, from taco salads and baked potatoes to sliced fruit and granola.
So what's cashew cream? Imagine a whipped spread with the consistency of sour cream, one that's so easy to prepare and that can be flavored to suit whatever you're serving it with. A squirt of lemon juice and some salt makes it savory, while a dash of vanilla and a drizzle of maple syrup makes it sweet. There are lots of recipes for it floating around the web, but this is the technique I've settled on for best results. Whether you're sensitive to dairy or not, it's a tasty addition to the Thanksgiving menu, for dairy-free dessert goodness this holiday season and beyond!
Whipped Cashew Cream Recipe
Place raw cashews in a bowl of water with a dash of salt. (I generally use one cup of cashews at a time but you can adjust the quantity easily—the recipe isn't finicky.) Soak for four hours, then drain and transfer soaked nuts to a blender. Pour water over cashews until they're just covered, and blend until you have a thick, creamy consistency. Leave the cashews in the blender and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, blend again; the additional resting time will have enabled the nuts to absorb a little more water and get even creamier. To use as a dessert topping, scrape the seeds from vanilla pods into the mixture, or add a dash of vanilla extract and stir. Maple syrup is a nice addition too!