We usually stick pumpkin at the end of the meal, in the form of pie. But my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip brings pumpkin to the head of the table, as the lets get this party started opening act of your family meal, posh party or weekend chill time.
More pumpkin? More pumpkin! Actually, I’m quite enjoying myself as I nail down a few go-to pumpkin recipes early on in the season. Perfect them now, enjoy them all season long. ..And well into the holidays when go-to vegan dip recipes really come in handy!
Pumpkin is one of those warm, cozy flavors that you really can’t enjoy as much in summertime. So I say, bring on the crisp air. And bring on the pumpkin recipes…
Cashew Cheese. This is another one of my baked cashew cheese recipes. You’ll find a few more in my dips recipe index. Molding pumpkin into a savory-sweet “cheese” dip is a delicious way to put pumpkin at the start of the meal.
Sure, you could prepare a creamy pumpkin bisque or pumpkin-sage ravioli as a starter, but this is a true party-approved appetizer recipe. Less fuss for your pre-meal eats. Perfect for those standing-room-only gatherings…
..Place a large warm pot of this stuff on your coffee table surround it by fresh chopped veggies, crackers and bread and you are set! Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip is cozy enough for a pajama party yet chic enough for a party dress gathering.
*Hot Dip Tip* Glam it up! Want to turn this dip into a foodie-approved wow-bite? Try this: Add saffron to my recipe below. Before you add the water, boil it stove top with a few pinches of saffron. This will infuse the entire dip with a sweet, romantic flavor that everyone will be swooning over.
Why Pumpkin Cheese Dip Works. I was a little worried that this dip would taste too much like pumpkin pie, but the kick of saltiness, spices, and lemon juice really perks up the pumpkin flavor. When you bake this dip the cashews dry out the texture and the cheese ‘crust’ becomes nice and fluffy. This is a perfect variety of dip for people who traditionally shy away from dips because of the “mushiness” factor.
..In fact, if the word “dip” scares you off – this could also be called a pumpkin paté of sorts.
Texture. Like all my cashew cheese recipes, you can customize the texture in terms of how ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ you want it. If you want a wet dip (like the one shown in my photos). You should use a deep oven-safe bowl for the baking process. The top layer will become crusty and dry, but the layers below will stay moist and warmed.
If you like a dry cashew cheese, I suggest using a shallow oven-safe dish to bake. Spread the mixture in a thin layer and bake for a longer period of time, and possibly at a slightly higher temperature. See recipes below for temp/times estimates.
You can also achieve a dry texture by hanging/straining the cheese through cheese cloth for a few hours. This will definitely give you a dry style cashew cheese. Both options work – it just depends on what you crave. I did not drain my cheese this time and enjoyed both the shallow and deep bowl options delicious.
Pure Pumpkin. You can use your own fresh pumpkin puree or 100% canned, unsweetened pumpkin. If you want to use pumpkin pie mix you can (sweetener/spices/salt pre-added) – in that case, simply leave out the additional sweetener, salt and spices.
Pumpkin Spice Cashew Cheese Dip
vegan, makes 4 cups
1 can 15oz. pumpkin (unsweetened, pure)
2 cups raw cashews (soaked and drained)
1/2 cup water (use soaked nut salted water)
1/4 cup maple syrup (sweeten to taste)
2-3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (you can use olive or pumpkin seed oil as well)
1/2 tsp sea salt (salt to taste)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or orange/tangerine juice for a warmer, less zesty flavor)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne (add more for extra spicy pumpkin dip)
optional: blend in additional soaked pumpkin seeds to add another layer of texture/flavor
1. Soak the raw cashews overnight in salted water. Drain, but reserve the water for use in the dip.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
3. Add the drained cashews, pumpkin, maple syrup, lemon juice, oil, salt and spices to a food processor or high speed blender,
4. Add the water in a few splashes at a time. (If you are infusing the water with saffron, as I mentioned in my Hot Dip Tip, be sure to add in that step) Add more if needed. You want to process the cheese into a thick texture – a bit thicker than hummus. Process until the desired texture is reached (at least 2 minutes on high).
5. Do a taste test. Add in more spices/salt/sweetener/lemon juice as you see fit. You can also add in additional flavor changers like harissa for a smoky/spicy taste. Or crushed sage for a warm herbed flavor. Or extra black pepper for a peppery flavor. As i said above, you can also substitute the lemon juice with orange juice for a mellower, warmer flavor. I used lemon and loved it though.
6. When your flavor is perfect, pour your cheese into your baking serving dish. Sprinkle a few modest spices on top. You can also top with a few pumpkin seeds as a nice garnish. The seeds will toast up nicely in the oven. Shallow dishes will result in a firmer/drier end product. Deep dishes will keep your smooth creamy texture.
7. For a shallow dish, bake at 250 for 50+ minutes. For the deep dish where you only want to warm the center and crisp the top you only need to bake at 250 for 20-30 minutes. The cheese dip will dry out the longer you bake it. The more you bake cashew cheese the more familiar you will get with your baking preferences.
8. Plating. Serve warm. You can also chill and firm up in the fridge if you’d like a cold pumpkin cheese dip. I enjoy both options. Serve with veggies, crackers, bread cubes. You can also add a drizzle of oil and/or maple syrup over top the final serving cheese if you’d like.