Cheese Cacao and Dessert workshop at Matthew Kenney Culinary


So I decided to come back. I wanted to learn more. To see if I can transform some of my dishes that has dairy into vegan, without losing the character of the dish. I was eager to find out how to make the  fermented and aged cheese, how to temper chocolate and make raw chocolate bars and prepare desserts, using plants only, for cream, pastry sheets or dough. This post a short summary of my experience. Please come back to see my recipes and instructions in the future using fermented, unfermented cheese and making plant based desserts.



I highly recommend any of the courses at the school, it will open your eyes, show a totally different way of cooking that can be partially or fully implemented in your everyday cooking, making healthier dishes all the time.

I love cheese. And I do eat cheese. A lot. And I am also a chef. A very open one. And I do respect all kinds of views on diets. I may not see them right, may not share them but respect them. The reason I am interested in vegan and raw cooking is not because I am planning to convert myself. It is rather my curiosity for everything in the culinary world and my desire to create delicious, enjoyable and beautiful food using different ingredients.

So when I heard about fermented tree nut cheese production I was totally intrigued. Fermentation is a favorite thing of mine. Mainly because of the taste. Kombucha, kimchi, love them all.



In the previous class, ( )  we already learnt how to make unfermented cheese. You can make a vegan cheese using any kinds of nut trees however it is rare that walnuts or pecans would be used and they are not suitable for fermentation at all.

During this workshop we made both fermented and unfermented cheese. Started off making an unfermented cheese using macadamia and prepare a raw beet ravioli for lunch with this ricotta like tree nut cheese.

Walnut pesto and  basil oil was also added to the dish and resulted in a beautiful, colorful plate of food.



You can try making this ravioli with any kinds of root vegetables. In any case you have to slice the vegetable very thin on a mandolin and drizzle with salt and olive oil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.




As opposed to unfermented cheese, the fermented one will have a pungent flavor and does require time for fermentation 24-48hours, not longer to avoid molding. A dehydrator is used for fermentation, however it can also be done in your cupboard 🙂 at a constant temperature, not cold, not hot. Without introducing bacteria fermentation will not take place so for this reason you will need to add some probiotics to the cheese if you want to ferment it.

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Then in 1-2 days when you open your little bag of fermented tree nut cheese, crust will be seen on the surface,


and your fermented cheese is ready to be seasoned, formed, eaten or ready for ageing if that is what you want.

At the workshop we made a macadamia and cashew fermented cheese and rolled it into a log, coated with chopped herbs and it is the vegan version of an herbed chèvre.


On second day, after 24 hours of fermentation we used this chèvre to make a simple salad for lunch which consisted of arugula, apple, candied walnuts and a sherry vinaigrette. A fresh, flavorful salad, which has a good balance of sweet, tart and savory.




Cacao. Chocolate. These are the words that make everybody say hmmmmmm. Nobody I know has problems eating them. But there is a difference. Difference between processed, not raw, or even milk chocolate. I know many people love them. I also used to. But not anymore. Quite a few years ago I started eating dark chocolate. It was a very important part of my diet and that was almost the only sweet thing I consumed. Gradually my taste buds adjusted completely and since then I can not eat milk chocolate.

So I was really excited to see how raw chocolate is made and taste something which was so pure, natural and had amazing taste and also so good for us.

There was a cacao tempering demo by Alice and we had a chance to make our own raw chocolate “bars”. It was soooo good to put what I wanted in my chocolate bar instead of putting up with someone else’s choice when buying the chocolate at the store 🙂 So I made one for myself with pink peppercorn, goji berries and pumpkin seeds and also made my husband his favorite flavors, sour cherry with pistachio. Not only tasted good, looked insanely pretty but also it is pure goodness for you.



On day 1 we mixed together  vanilla almond macaroons and after these pretty little things spent a day in the dehydrator we took them out and enjoyed the quenelles of pure raw goodness at home. I must admit. I was not overly excited about this one. But oh, how good these were with my coffee in the morning!!! And provided all the necessary energy for the start of the day.



And then this happened. My favorite part.

I love cooking and I am a chef. So for me making complex dishes is fun. This Napoleon here is not the dessert that you will mix up in 10 seconds and that’s it ….ready…. Oh no. As you can see there are a few things going on on that plate.


First off. The Napoleon has layers of “pastry” sheets. These sheets were made with cashews and macadamias and the binding agent,  as pretty common in vegan baking, is flax meal. Pictured below. It was hard to believe that this will hold, but the flax meal and the dehydrator definitely made a good job!

macadamia pastry

In between the layers there is a chocolate sheet too, which is pure cacao powder and cacao butter with some flavoring. To make the dessert a bit lighter, this Napoleon has fresh strawberries and also served with a simple puree of strawberries. And that perfect scoop of ice cream looking thing is chantilly cream made with cashews, coconut meat, almond milk and flavorings. It is the tastiest vegan thing I ever tried, for sure!



Although I am not vegan I totally respect the decision of people who decide to follow this route. Everything that I learnt at Matthew Kenney Culinary helped me to see and understand how tree nuts can be used to transform dishes into vegan and how amazingly endless opportunities these nuts provide for vegans. It is an exciting revelation for me because it will let me create freely in the vegan world the same way as in any other one. And yes, sometimes my dishes look too pretty to eat them, but look! Pretty even while eating! 🙂





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