I was very lucky to taste the aged, vegan, artisanal nut milk cheeses Kite Hill generously sent my way for some honest feedback.
I know, this post is about cheese but boasts a hot chocolate as its first picture. You’ll see why if you read on.
Apparently, Kite Hill’s vegan cheeses are only being sold at Whole Foods at the moment. Considering Whole Foods doesn’t seem to be interested in opening a store in this town, I’d never had the opportunity to try any before.
Pictures, with links:
1. Hot chocolate made with whipped ricotta masquerading as mascarpone substitute
2. Soft Ripened
3. Whipped ricotta
4. Soft Fresh Original with ground pepper on top
5. Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive
The first one we bit into was the Soft Ripened. The appearance and texture are absolutely spot-on. The flavor seemed a little bit bland to me at first “naked” bite, but it develops impressively after eating other savory foods, like crackers, pumpernickel bread, or pickled vegetables. It reminds me of Poil de Carottes or Tomme Vaudoise (not adding links for the faint of heart). This one is my second favorite of the bunch.
Which brings me to the absolute favorite, the ricotta: It’s said to be a great substitute for mascarpone in desserts. I’ve been making the simplest hot chocolate on occasion and decided to try adding ricotta to mimic mascarpone in my basic recipe, in place of the tiny bit of silken tofu I usually throw in for added bulk.
The ricotta gave a slight tanginess to the beverage (seen at the top of this post), something tofu obviously doesn’t do; it yielded a deliciously grown-up, refined, and happily soy-free outcome.
I’ve also used the ricotta in less unexpected places, such as in quick lasagna (a play on Joni’s recipe for our upcoming The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions), crumbled on top of pesto pizza before oven time, in dessert creams (peanut butter one time, Speculoos another time), and I hear it works extremely well in cheesecakes too; it’s ridiculously tasty, and such a fantastic alternative to tofu ricotta. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
As for the Soft Fresh Original, I find it at its best served with salads, as Kite Hill recommends. I added a little ground pepper on top to boost the flavor when eating it with crackers and olives, but I find the texture to be just a little too reminiscent of silken tofu when enjoyed as is.
Chaz, who usually is the pickiest with food textures, found it to be just fine. Ich bin ein party pooper.
Finally, the Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive: Chaz’s absolute favorite of all, and one I enjoyed quite a lot as well. You get a subtle taste of all the fancy listed flavors, which all play nicely together without being too in-your-face.
Another fact Kite Hill cheeses can be praised for is that the amount of salt is just right in every single one of them, something that isn’t always the case with non-homemade (vegan or not) food items.
Would I buy these products? Absolutely. I will be happy to support Kite Hill’s dedicated work and fuel my newly-found ricotta and Soft Ripened (and Chaz’s Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive) passion as soon as these products are available in town.
Be sure to click the links in the picture listing if you want to see all the nutritional info, serving and wine pairing suggestions, too.
Thank you for allowing me to throw a mini vegan cheese party, Kite Hill powers-that-be!