Anyone who is familiar with vegan cooking knows that there are a lot of recipes that use cashews. Cashews can make an amazingly creamy and smooth sauce. They can be used in pretty much anything that requires dairy as a substitute! I have used them in sour cream, cream cheese, heavy cream, and milk recipes. Cashews blend down into a silky smooth cream when they are soaked or boiled before puréeing. I love them and haven’t found a better dairy replacement so far.
There are a few problems with cashews though. A lot of people are allergic to cashews. For those who are allergic, seeing them in so many recipes can be really discouraging. I have found that using seeds like sunflower or hemp can make a creamy milk alternative. For recipes that require a cream cheese or sour cream alternative, coconut cream or silken tofu can be used! I really like using coconut cream for these things because the texture can be manipulated a lot more than the tofu. Coconut cream is very solid if it is chilled, so it works great in things like no-bake cheesecake because it helps hold everything together. It is also really high in fat and makes a very rich dessert.
Another problem I tend to have with cashews is that they are very expensive. I practically cringe every time I have to purchase them. I have found that using almonds can be very useful, especially in sauces. Almonds are slightly cheaper, so that makes me feel a little better. The only problem with them is that they don’t break down like cashews do. There will be a little bit of pulp after blending almonds, but if it is strained out, the pulp can be used for cookies, vegan parmesan, cakes, and crackers! Homemade almond milk thickens like cashew milk does, so it is a good alternative to a heavy cream! I actually discovered the amazing magic of homemade almond milk before I did cashew milk.
Needless to say, cashews are a staple food in plant based diets. People don’t talk about alternatives to them because everyone seems to love everything about them. After talking to some people who have allergies to various nuts, I realized there is a huge need for alternatives to nut milks and nut based desserts.