I came up with a funky, Gouda-type cheese with a kick: Chipotle Firm Vegan Cheese.
This is about as firm as I could get the cheese using agar and no nuts, and unripened. This cheese is ready as soon as it cools down. If you want to age it, I am sure it will get more firm. You could put it in your fridge (wrapped in paper towels for a few days, is a method Sky Conroy recommends and I think I will try it with these cheeses) to age and dry out a bit. It should certainly become more firm, but if you want something quick, here it is.
The flavor is dark, deep and funky (like cheese) and it melts if you give it enough time and moist heat. I have placed a slice directly onto the pan to warm up and then, using a spatula, placed it on the burger or bread (for grilled cheese - really nice!) and then continued to cook it until it melted. Use a lid and a few teaspoons of water in the pan to provide that moist heat.
The cheese is simple to make, but you will need non-dairy yogurt. If you make your own, you are ahead of the game, but if you buy commercially made yogurt, try not to use the coconut-based one because your cheese will taste like coconuts.
First, combine aquafaba and agar and set it aside to soften. Make sure to mix it well, not like the picture.
Because I wanted to make this either soy-free or nut-free and with little fat, I am using yogurt as the base of the cheese. The yogurt also supplies vegan lactic acid, which gives cheese tang, but if you have some vegan lactic acid hanging around then add 1/2 teaspoon of that as well.
Blend the rest of the ingredients...
...cook the agar and aquafaba mixture until the agar dissolves, and add the mixture. Whisk well and cook until the temperature reaches at least 195-degrees F - about 5 minutes.
Stir constantly to avoid burning to the bottom and transfer to a mold or container.
Now, admittedly, the photo below (and the first one above) was the very first version of this cheese. I wasn't satisfied with the texture and made it a few more times before I settled on the recipe below. The one pictured is a bit softer than I liked and the recipe I am actually sharing is for one that is firm, but not so firm that you feel like you are eating one of those agar plates from high school microbiology. Fun vision, right?
Oh and hey! If you by chance got this far in the post, and by chance purchased Aquafaba, and by chance are enjoying the recipes, and by chance wouldn't mind, could you scoot over to Amazon and leave feedback? Only, if you don't mind. The link to the book is right HERE.
Chipotle Firm Vegan Cheese - aquafaba recipe
Makes 1 block
1/2 cup aquafaba**
3 teaspoons agar powder
1/2 cup unsweetened plain nondairy milk
1/2 cup unsweetened plain nondairy yogurt (not coconut)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons tapioca starch
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon vegan lactic acid (optional)
2 teaspoons dark miso (not mellow white miso)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo puree
1. Combine the aquafaba and agar in a medium saucepan. Mix well and set aside to soften.
2. Combine the milk, yogurt, yeast, starch, salt, garlic, lactic acid, miso, Worcestershire and chipotle in a blender. Blend very well. Set aside. Have a 2-cup mold ready for the cheese.
3. Heat the saucepan of aquafaba over medium heat. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minutes. Slowly add the blender mixture to the aquafaba mixture while stirring with a whisk. Whisk until smooth and bring back to boil. Once boiling, switch to a spatula and cook the mixture for 5 minutes. The cheese should reach 195-degrees F for the agar to completely dissolve.
4. Immediately transfer the cheese to the mold and cool. Once cool place in the refrigerator to completely chill and firm up. Remove from the mold and slice and serve.
** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
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