My favorite condiment as a kid was probably a three-way tie between ketchup, ranch dressing, and cream cheese. It just depended on the occasion. There was nothing I loved more for breakfast than a cinnamon-raisin bagel piled high with cream cheese. Well, okay, I wouldn’t have said no to cinnamon rolls or French toast, either. But for everyday consumption, the bagel won out. I confess to still occasionally indulging in something cream-cheesy. A dip, maybe. A gluten-free bagel, sometimes. A cheesecake, even. And although I do okay with dairy these days compared to the crippling abdominal cramps it used to give me, I know it’s not something I should be eating. Milk always makes me congested. Sometimes it makes my arthritis pain flare up. And I figured it was way past time I found a good dairy-free alternative to one of my favorite indulgences. Thus: Coconut Cream Cheese.
It may sound like a bit of a hassle, but it’s actually very easy to make. Most of the prep time is just letting it sit to drain and then ferment. I used the most diverse probiotic capsule I could find at my local grocery store, totaling about 30 billion cultures per capsule. Depending on the brand of probiotic you have, you may need more capsules or fewer to get roughly the same number. I usually use Kirkman’s Pro-Bio Gold for this kind of thing. Be careful you don’t let your Coconut Cream Cheese sit too long. It will get really sour really fast! Check it every eight hours or so and stick it in the fridge as soon as it tastes right to you. It will get hard in the fridge, but if you didn’t strain out enough liquid, it may be runny at room temperature. So, serve it somewhere between chilled and room temperature for the right consistency.
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- Open the cans of cold coconut milk and scoop out the solid coconut cream that should have formed on top. Save the remaining liquid for use in another recipe (like a smoothie).
- Over a large mixing bowl, place a thin cloth napkin or several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the coconut cream over it and lift the napkin to gently squeeze out some of the liquid. The coconut cream will look like a ball of soft cheese.
- Discard the liquid from the bowl, then combine the cream, syrup, and probiotic powder in it. Transfer to a sterile, lidded glass dish and keep in a warm place for 24 hours.
- Refrigerate to set. Serve at room temperature.