Creamy Mac & Cheese – now with Heart!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet soy cheese

Vegan Gourmet v. Teese: Who shall emerge victorious?

2009-06-03 - Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe Order - 0034

Spoiler: Each shall live to melt another day!

Originally, I’d intended this as a side-by-side comparison of Teese and Vegan Gourmet vegan mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, à la the Sweet & Sara v. Dandies showdown. Yes, I had it all planned out: I ordered exactly enough tubes of Teese to make a few batches of cheddary mac & cheese, with an extra tube of mozzarella and cheddar left over to cover a homemade pizza each. The fridge was stocked to nearly-overflowing with brick upon glorious brick of Vegan Gourmet. (Nom!) Unfortunately, we tried so many different mac & cheese recipes – and over such a lengthy period of time – that it quickly became impossible to keep track of the many cheese/recipe variations. (Seriously, I’ve been at this since early summer!)

So while I don’t come bearing a chart or pro/con breakdown of each brand and flavor of vegan cheese, I can say that I prefer Vegan Gourmet to Teese. Teese is a little salty for my taste, and since it’s not available locally, it’s a tad more expensive than Vegan Gourmet, especially when you factor in shipping costs. Of course, I’m not judging either brand against its dairy-based counterpart, since I’ve never been able to eat the stuff. (Something for which I’m quite thankful now; it’s rather easy to “give up” non-vegan products when you never formed taste for/addiction to them to begin with!) My husband – who is not allergic to milk and found cow’s milk cheese the hardest foodstuff to relinquish upon going vegan – nominally prefers Teese to Vegan Gourmet. Take from that what you will.

In terms of cooking with Teese versus Vegan Gourmet, I think the two are tied for convenience, meltability, etc. Both seem to have their own “sweet spot” for achieving maximum gooeyness. For example, when sprinkled atop mini pita bread pizzas, Vegan Gourmet melts best when cooked at 450 degrees F for about 15 minutes. But, um, that’s in the Garbato-Brady oven; my sister has had slightly less luck at these settings. Likewise, the reason we tried so many mac & cheese recipes is because the cheese sauce congealed at different rates, depending not just on the brand, but also how and when the cheese was mixed with the soy milk, margarine and macaroni. So no matter which brand you favor, there’s no small amount of experimentation and guesswork that goes into cooking with vegan cheese. But hey, it’s totally worth it, dontchathink?

Anyhow, after months of laborious taste-testing, the Mr. and I finally came up with our perfect mac & cheese recipe. Again, grain of salt; mac & cheese is a highly personal and intimate subject, particularly in the vegan community, so perhaps you’ll try this dish only to discover that it tastes like dreck. But hey, that’s how I feel about mac & cheese dishes centered around nutritional yeast, and many fellow vegans swear by these recipes. To each her own.

(More below the fold…)