Ever since I discovered smoked Ghost Pepper chilies at Trader Joe’s, I’ve been completely smitten. Although Ghost Pepper chilies are extremely spicy, just a tiny dash adds a hit of heat and incredible depth of flavor. It’s almost addictive on some level.
My son and I are the one’s that really go crazy for Ghost Pepper in our house, so we thought it might be fun to give it a try in a homemade vegan cheese. It was love at first bite! Everyone, including my mom (who doesn’t love things too spicy), couldn’t get enough of this delicious cheese. It’s got a little bite of spice combined with a bit of smokiness. We’ve eaten it out of hand, with crackers (gluten-free, of course), and melted on a pizza. Every which way we’ve tried, this cheese is fantastic!
The nice thing is that you add the Ghost Pepper to taste. If you’re using the grinder from Trader Joe’s, start with a quick grind or two. If you are using a powdered version like this one, start with a tiny sprinkle. I suggest that you add it to the blender before you had thee tapioca and carrageenan. That way you can taste it without the raw flavor of tapioca (or raw carrageenan, which I wouldn’t recommend). If you really like your food spicy, add more to taste.
For ingredients, you can find the kappa carrageenan and vegan lactic acid powder on Amazon. This recipe was adapted from Somer McCowan’s delicious Smoked Coconut Gouda recipe (Part Deux). I have also started adding less carrageenan to my homemade cheese recipes. It makes it a bit softer, which I prefer for eating out of hand or with crackers. If you like your cheese firmer (especially if you plan on grating it), then you can increase the carrageenan to 2 tablespoons.
I should mention that last I checked, Trader Joe’s didn’t have the peppers currently in stock. So I ordered the powdered version in the link above (from Amazon). It was really good and worked well in this recipe. I will continue to keep my eye out for Trader Joe’s to bring them back, as well as look out for other companies that sell the grinder with them. They are pretty addictive!
I hope that you enjoy this cheese as much as we do!
This homemade cheese is delightfully smoky, creamy, with a spicy kick. It’s kind of the grown up version of paper jack.
2 cups cool water
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil (unrefined)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
3/4 teaspoon vegan lactic acid powder
A few grinds or sprinkle of smoked Ghost Pepper
A few grinds of black pepper
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 1/2 tablespoons kappa carrageenan
In the jar of a strong blender, combine the water, cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, coconut oil, salt, liquid smoke, lactic acid, Ghost Pepper, and black pepper, blending until super smooth and there aren’t any bits of nuts. Taste and add more Ghost Pepper, if desired. Add the tapioca and carrageenan, and blend for 5 to 10 seconds until smooth. Don’t blend any longer or the mixture can start to thicken in the blender.
Pour the cashew mixture into a large saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking continually. Continue cooking, whisking continuously, for about 7-9 minutes until the mixture has thickened nicely and is very glossy. I like to drizzle a little of the mixture onto the back of a spoon, and make sure that it firms up. That’s how I can tell that it’s done cooking.
Pour the cheese into a smallish container that can contain a minimum of 2 cups volume. I like small loaf pans or glass bowls.
If properly cooked, the cheese will start to set right away. Allow the cheese to set at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then cover and refrigerate the cheese to finish setting for 3 to 4 hours.
If the cheese doesn’t set up properly that means you haven’t cooked it long enough, if this happens to you, throw it back into the saucepan and cook for a few minutes more! It’ll re-melt and then you can pour it back into the mold for it to solidify.
Gluten-Free + Vegan