When you get down to it, the essence of cheese comes from a trio of indulgences: fat, pungency, and salt. Though mimicking an exact cheddar cheese without the use of any dairy can be difficult (after all, it isn’t cheddar cheese then, now is it?), we can still satisfy cravings when those characteristics are delivered in a medium like these dairy-free cream cheese appetizers (in cute salame cones!).
Truth be told, this is more like a rich, pungent “goat cheese” (my favorite go-to cream cheese alternative recipe is in Go Dairy Free), but I didn’t want to put dairy-free goat cheese in the title, lest people think I was referring to goat’s milk as dairy-free! It isn’t, but this recipe is 100% dairy-free and even made without soy, to boot.
I’ve allowed flexibility in the pungency and saltiness of this dairy-free cream cheese, or goat cheese if you will, because the final flavor should rest on the medium that you are serving it with. In this case, we enjoyed it with Columbus Farm to Fork Naturals Salame (a little uncured Italian and Genoa). The salame has cheesy properties in its own right – it’s quite rich, pungent, and salty – which is why it is AMAZING on easy cheese-free pizza. That said, I recommend starting with lesser amounts of pungency (lemon) and salt, taste-testing as you go with your desired medium. Use less of each when paired with the flavorful quality salame, more with crackers.
To make the presentation fun, I rolled each slice into a cone, stabbed them with toothpicks, and piped the dairy-free cream cheese in. You can dress it up with olives, blend in chives, add a pop of red bell pepper or a sprinkle of paprika, whatever floats your boat.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Appetizers
This recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and paleo / primal. Note that to make the items pictured, I use Columbus Naturals Salame, which is free of all of these ingredients, and also made without added nitrates or preservatives. Believe it or not, many brands of packaged meat do contain dairy, gluten, or other unwanted ingredients.
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- ⅓ cup neutral-tasting oil (such as rice bran, grapeseed or canola)
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ to 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- Water, as needed.
- 1 4-ounce package Columbus all-natural, uncured salame*
- Sliced olives (green, black, Kalamata), chives, or chopped bell peppers
- Place the cashews in a spice grinder (in two batches) or food processor and grind into a powder; it takes about 30 seconds.
- In a small blender or food processor, blend the ground cashews, oil, tahini, and garlic until smooth. Blend in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Taste test with your serving medium, and add more of each, if needed. I use the full amount of each with crackers, but much less when serving in salame cones. Blend in a little water, as needed (around 2 tablespoons with the lesser amount of lemon juice, none when using the full amount), if it is too thick to get a creamy consistency.
- Place the mixture in the refrigerator, and let it chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This gives it time to thicken and for the flavors to meld.
- Whisk with a fork. If too thick to pipe and not creamy in consistency, whisk in water, ½ teaspoon at a time.
- If making salami cones, roll each slice into a cone shape, and stab with a toothpick to keep the wrapped shape.
- Pipe the dairy-free cream cheese into the cones, and garnish with sliced olives or other flavor boosters, such as red bell pepper.