This vegan pepper jack cheese made with leftover wheat starch water from washing flour to make seitan gets its creaminess from cashews and packs plenty of heat. It's a hard cheese perfect for your next charcuterie board, sliced thin for sandwiches, or grated onto just about anything when you're looking to add a little kick.
Soak the cashews overnight or for 8-12 hours to soften them. If you're pressed for time you can boil a cup or two of water, then add the cashews and remove from the heat. Let them sit for 30 minutes in the boiled water, then give a quick rinse in cool water.
In a high-speed blender or food processor (I used the single blender cup from my Ninja) process the cashews and starting with about a 1/2 cup of water, process until smooth, adding the additional 1/4 cup as you go.
Heat the 1/3 cup of refined coconut oil in a small pan on low heat and add the seeded, finely-chopped serrano peppers and the 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. Cook them on low/medium heat for about 5 minutes until the serranos have softened. Set aside to cool.
Drain as much excess water off your starch as possible and stir. I let mine sit in the fridge for a day or two to try to get it to really separate before using for this. Make sure your starch water is at room temperature before beginning, or it can make your coconut oil solidify when mixing.* I microwave it in 30-second increments, stirring each time until it's ready. Be careful not to heat it too much or the starch will clump.
*You can also leave the starch on your counter for several hours or overnight so it begins to ferment. The sourness and slight acidity will add more depth of flavor to your cheese.
Prepare a steamer and have a container ready for your cheese. I use these silicone molds which easily release. You may want to oil a glass container if using. Whatever you choose, make sure it can easily hold up to at least 2 1/2-3 cups of liquid, because the mixture will rise by about 1/3 during cooking.
Add the blended cashews, and all the ingredients except the coconut oil/pepper mixture and lactic acid to your blender or food processor and blitz. Slowly add in the oil/peppers and continue to blend until it is fully emulsified.
Finally add in the lactic acid and pulse the blender a bit more to incorporate.* Pour the mixture into the prepared vessel and steam for 45 minutes. Allow to come to room temperature before covering and storing in the fridge. The cheese will be hardened after about 6-8 hours of resting in the fridge and will continue to harden a little more as it rests.