Knockout alternative: Cashew cream can be used as a dip or spread. Photo: Steven Siewert
What is it?
A thick, rich nut cream made from cashews, it's the new babe on the tables of people who have enough milk, cream and mayo in their lives. Salted and spiced, it's used as you would hummus, aioli or tahini - as a dip, spread on grilled sourdough, or drizzled over roasted vegetables, burgers, tacos or soups.
Lightly sweetened, it makes a knockout alternative to cream in and on cakes, pastries and desserts. Add more water and you have the other new babe on the wholesome hippie scene - a light, nourishing cashew-nut milk to drink hot or cold, or pour over breakfast muesli.
Where is it?
In Sydney, naturopath Kirsten Shanks recently opened the Orchard Street Cafe and Elixir Bar in Bondi with a ''milk bar'' menu of hot nut-milk drinks.
"Soaking cashews for a few hours tricks the nuts into beginning the process of germination," she says. "It breaks down certain compounds that can be hard to digest, releases enzymes and increases nutrient levels, in a process commonly known as 'activating'." Shanks finds it's not just vegans and dairy-intolerant people who are converts. "It's so rich and nourishing and delicious in its own right," she says. "We have tradies come in for a flat white and leave with a cashew nut chai."
At Melbourne's raw-food and juice-cleanse cafe Combi in Elwood, co-owner Penny Loughnan makes 70 litres of ''nut mylk'' a day for her espresso almond nut milk with a double shot of espresso, coconut flesh, medjool dates and Himalayan salt (woah!). "It's so creamy and yummy and scrummy," she says. "I wondered when we opened if people were ready for this, but we've discovered they really want to know about beautiful, healthy nourishing food."
Why do I care?
Because, like cashews themselves, cashew cream is a great source of essential fats, protein, vitamin K, magnesium and antioxidants. And because it has the dreamy texture of soft-serve ice-cream.
Can I do it at home?
Yes, just soak raw cashews in water and whiz in a blender until smooth, then choose to go savoury or sweet (see recipe).
Raw cashews (not roasted and salted) are available from health food shops and nut specialists.
- 150g raw organic cashews
- 300ml filtered water
1. Soak the cashews in 150 millilitres of water for two to three hours.
2. Drain, then place the nuts in a high-performance blender with the remaining water.
3. Whiz for 60 seconds until creamy. Scrape down the sides and whiz again for 30 seconds until smooth and no longer gritty. If too thick, add extra water.
4. Store in a covered container in the fridge; it will last for four or five days.
For a savoury cream: add sea salt, black pepper and one teaspoon of a favourite spice such as smoked paprika or ground cumin, and whiz.
For a sweet cream: add two medjool dates and a drizzle of honey, maple syrup or vanilla extract, and whiz until smooth. Serve with figs, poached pears, chocolate cake and raw-food desserts.
Orchard Street Cafe and Elixir Bar, 2 Brighton Boulevard, Bondi; Orchard St Dispensary, 137 Macpherson Street, Bronte, orchardstreet.com.au
Combi, 140 Ormond Road, Elwood, 03 9531 0084, wearecombi.com.au