Our first reaction upon tasting this was, “We should market this.” And probably we should!
But it’s fresh and fragile and would likely require too many additives to make it last on a grocer’s shelf, so I offer it to you instead.
I’ve loved coffee forever. As a youngster, in a special nod to my birthplace in Paris, I was given café au lait—steamy, frothy milk poured into the mug at the same time as hot coffee—with a heavy emphasis on the lait over the café, at least until I got a little older. It’s still one of my favorite and most comforting drinks, and was one of the hardest things to do without when I went vegan.
I tried coffee black, but that just wasn’t as appealing as it was back in my semi-bohemian college days. I tried some of the substitutes on the market, but disliked the taste of each of them as much as (or more than) the ingredient lists. Plain almond milk seemed watery and weak, even though I love it in other things. I figured I’d just have to stick to tea drinking and kiss coffee and its fancy cousin café au lait goodbye.
I stated in my last post that I’m not big on substitutes, and now here I am urging you to try a substitute! Oh well. In my defense, I’ll say that since this one is homemade and since it’s a whole food and since it really, truly works as a stand-in for cream, this is a substitute I can live with. In fact, now that I’ve discovered it, it’s turning out to be one I can hardly live without.
I’ll admit that it’s time-consuming. It must be said that it’s not cheap to make. And . . . don’t tell anyone but it’s kind of fattening! But if you’ve read this far, maybe I’ve sparked your imagination and you’ll want to give it a try anyway. Save it for special occasions.
For the full effect, you’ll need to make your own thick cashew milk, because it can’t be purchased anywhere, and without it this wouldn’t be the stuff that dreams are made of. I’ve tried the thin commercial stuff and it doesn’t work for this. You’ll also need to use whole coconut milk, not lite, and use one that you truly love, as I love Native Forest. I would insist on it if I could! The difference between the flavor of Native Forest and the more ubiquitous Thai Kitchen coconut milk is gargantuan and is not flattering to Thai Kitchen. There really is no comparison. As far as the almond milk component, you can get away with commercial almond milk for this. Use whichever one you love the flavor of, but I prefer the homemade version below to any others I’ve tried.
This is one of those instances where the quality of each ingredient will make or break the result. All the flavor stars must be aligned for loveliness to ensue. I’m very fussy about which cashews I use and will only buy them from one particular store in town. The others just don’t do the trick. For those who use raw cashews regularly for vegan delicacies, I’m sure you already know your favorite source, but for those who don’t, I’ll quote Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy: “You better shop around.”
By the way, I’m looking forward to trying the thick cashew milk (recipe follows)—which is incredibly scrumptious at room temperature, just after it’s made—on New Year’s Eve with rum and coconut milk as a vegan eggnog! I’ll faithfully report back a day (or two) after.
Rich & Decadent Vegan Coffee Creamer
1 cup thick homemade cashew milk (see recipe below)
1¼ – 1½ cups whole coconut milk (Native Forest organic “Classic” is by far the preferred brand) *
½ cup homemade almond milk (preferably pre-soaked 48 hrs)
1½ – 2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. agave nectar
Mix in blender to break up any coconut milk lumps. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator; shake or stir before using. Use within a couple of days or make less.
NOTE: This can be heated but do it very gently and do not let it reach a boil.
* Here’s some good news: Native Forest coconut milk comes in BPA-free cans!
Homemade Thick Cashew Milk
(adapted from cookieandkate.com)
1 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces
2 cups spring water
2 tsp. vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon preferred)
dash of sea salt
splash of agave nectar if desired
Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours, or overnight in refrigerator. Do not drain. Add the cashews and water and blend until cashews are completely broken down. Strain through fine strainer and add vanilla, salt and agave if using. For thinner cashew milk, add up to 2 cups more spring water. Store in refrigerator for a few days max. Shake before using.
Homemade Almond Milk
(adapted from ohsheglows.com)
1 cup raw almonds
3½ cups spring water (*USE LESS FOR THICKER CONSISTENCY*)
1 whole vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract (if vanilla bean is dry, soak for a while before using)
½ tsp. agave nectar
pinch of sea salt
Soak almonds overnight or up to 48 hours with water changes every 12 hours. Drain and place in blender with water and vanilla bean. If using extract, though, hold that until the next step. Blend on high speed until well pulverized.
Strain through fine mesh strainer; press to extract the most liquid possible. Keep the almond pulp; this can be spread out on parchment and dried in a warm oven, then ground into almond flour.
Add seasonings. Taste and adjust. Store in a glass jar in refrigerator for a few days max. Shake before using.