Cashew + Coconut Creamer

This creamer recipe is quite simple, and the recipient of mucho praise from our team of testers for the upcoming companion volume to Veg Subs. I never used to add anything to my own coffee, but I found myself missing it when I ran out.
Lots of ifs ahead:

• If you have efficient blending equipment (I sure don’t), you shouldn’t have to strain the cashews; they are so creamy after being soaked for so long.
• If your blender fails you and you feel the creamer is slightly gritty, it’s preferable to strain it. (I sure did.) You wouldn’t want to see floating bits of cashews in your morning cup of joe.
• If you do indeed have to strain it, don’t toss the pulp: stir it into your favorite heated marinara sauce (homemade or not) for a creamy concoction with no waste whatsoever.
• And finally, if your cashews usually get bitter once they get past a 6-hour soak, which I hear can happen, simply go for a shorter time. I suppose the cashews I buy had a good life, because there’s never been any bitterness between us. No bitterness in the testers’ cashews either. Again, as long as you have a quality blender, it shouldn’t be a problem to get super smooth results even with a shorter soak.

Cashew + Coconut Creamer:

1 cup (140 g) raw cashews
5 1/4 cups (1.235 L) filtered water, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) full-fat coconut milk
Pinch fine sea salt

For vanilla maple creamer
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (12 g) superfine maple sugar or maple syrup, to taste

For hazelnut creamer
2 1/2 teaspoons pure hazelnut extract
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light agave nectar or other sweetener, to taste

Place the cashews in a medium bowl, or four-cup (940 ml) glass measuring cup. Cover with 2 cups (470 ml) water. Cover with plastic wrap, or a lid, and let stand at room temperature for 18 hours (water changed halfway through: drain, quick rinse, another 2 cups or 470 ml water, soak for remaining time) to soften the nuts.
Drain the cashews (discard the soaking water), and give them a quick rinse. Place the cashews with 1 1/4 cups (295 ml) water, coconut milk, and salt in a blender, and blend until perfectly smooth. If you find the creamer is slightly gritty, it’s preferable to strain it in a nut milk bag placed in a fine-mesh sieve. Transfer the creamer into two half-pint mason jars, and add the flavorings and sweeteners in each jar. (If you only want one of the flavors, be sure to double the quantity of flavorings and sweeteners, and to place the creamer in a full pint mason jar instead. Ditto that last part if you don’t want any flavor in the creamer.) Place the lid on the jars, and shake until perfectly blended. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, and shake well before each use.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups (470 ml) creamer