Monday, June 9, 2014


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Several years ago I developed a delicious vegan version of the popular Boursin® cheese spread (the recipe is in my book "World Vegan Feast"). While it is much lower in calories than the "real thing", I decided a while back to try to lower the fat and calories even further without sacrificing flavor and texture. I've been working on this again for a few weeks and I'm finally satisfied with the following version, which I endeavoured to make as uncomplicated as possible.  Because it doesn't contain vegan butter, it's softer than my higher-fat version, but not "gloppy". (I discarded one version that required cooking some of the mixture with agar-- it didn't firm it up much anyway.)

Just in case you aren't familiar with Boursin®, here's some background: From Wikipedia: "Boursin® cheese is a soft creamy cheese available in a variety of flavours. Its flavor and texture is somewhat similar to the American cream cheese.Boursin® cheese was first produced in 1957 by François Boursin in Normandy. Boursin® is a trademark - Boursin® cheese was at one time produced exclusively in Croisy-sur-Eure, France, by the Boursin® company, a subsidiary of Group Bel, but is now also produced in the United States for North American distribution by Unilever."

**NOTE: This recipe does require another recipe-- 1/2 cup of my low-fat Coconut-Corn Spread butter sub (contains no oil). It's easy to make and has many uses-- on toast, potatoes, vegetables, etc., so I keep some in the fridge at all times.  You can make it several days ahead of making the Boursin-style spread. The recipe for it is just below the Boursin-style spread recipe **

Nutritional info:
Although this lowfat vegan version of the spread tastes and feels rich, 1 tablespoon contains less than 23 calories, less than 1.5 g fat, and no cholesterol.  Another plus-- this lowfat vegan version contains over 100 mg LESS sodium than the "real thing" .

As a comparison, 1 tablespoon of my original vegan version (in “World Vegan Feast”) contains 47 calories and 4 g of fat.

1 tablespoon of the "real thing" (commercial dairy Boursin®) contains 120 calories, 13 g of fat (8 g saturated), and 35 mg cholesterol.

**I took this to a dinner party recently and got rave reviews, BTW.**

Printable Copy (includes Corn Spread recipe)

Servings: 32
Yield: 2 cups
Basic Spread Mixture:          
1 (12.3 oz.) box firm or extra-firm SILKEN tofu, prepared as instructed in NOTE below in bold, just above recipe text         
1/2 cup Coconut Corn Butter (see recipe below )      
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice    
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white miso         
1/2 teaspoon guar gum           
1/2 cup raw cashews or shelled raw sunflower seeds, soaked OR ground very fine in a coffee/spice mill or mini-chopper (See NOTE at beginning of recipe instructions)      
Basic Flavoring:         
1-2 medium cloves garlic, crushed       
1-2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives OR 1/2 tsp. dried dill weed          
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper   
Alternative Flavorings: (based on the different varieties available from Boursin®)       
1.) Omit herbs and garlic and use more pepper           
2.) Use shallots instead of garlic          
3.) Make a sweet version with chopped nuts and dried fruit (Omit the Basic Flavoring, of course!)           
4.) To the Basic Flavoring, add some chopped roasted red pepper or sundried tomato
5.) To the Basic Flavoring, add such herbs as basil or dill weed           
6.) Make a Holiday version by adding chopped apple and dried cranberries, and a touch of cinnamon (Omit the Basic Flavoring, of course!)         

NOTE ABOUT CASHEWS or SUNSEEDS: If you have a powerful blender like a Vita-Mix, you don't have to grind the nuts first. Just soak them for 10 minutes in boiling water to soften them up, then drain them.

To prepare the tofu:
Crumble the tofu in a clean tea towel or piece of cotton sheeting, gather the ends up and twist, knead, and squeeze for a couple of minutes to extract as much of the water from the tofu as possible. OR, IF YOU HAVE A TOFU PRESS (or USA Amazon link), place the whole block of silken tofu in it and press for 30 minutes. Discard liquid and crumble the tofu into the food processor or high-speed blender.
Add the remaining Basic Spread Mixture ingredients in the order given EXCEPT for the cashews and flavoring ingredients. Blend or process at high speed for several minutes. Be patient-- it has to be VERY smooth. You may have to stop the machine a couple of times and scrape the sides and push the ingredients that have accumulated under the blade towards the middle. When smooth, add the ground or soaked cashews and blend again, in the same way.

When as smooth as possible, and blending easily without help, add the Basic Flavoring, or whatever additions you prefer. Blend again if you want them well-incorporated into the spread, or pulse if you want, for instance, small pieces of apple or other fruit, nuts, or vegetables, to be discernible.

Scoop into 3 straight-sided oiled 6-ounce ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. They will firm up in a few hours (though it will be softer than real commercial Boursin), and can be served out of the ramekins.

NOTES: 1.) The spread might seem to "puff up" a bit after a few hours-- this is the guar gum expanding.  Just stir it down and smooth out again. 2.) You can freeze this.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving/1 tablespoon): 22.4 calories; 57% calories from fat; 1.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 85.2mg sodium; 39.0mg potassium; 1.2g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 0.3g sugar; 1.1g net carbs; 1.2g protein.

BRYANNA'S COCONUT-CORN SPREAD (butter substitute for spreading on breads, potatoes and vegetables, etc.)
Yield: about 2 cups
This spread is easy, inexpensive, and needs no exotic ingredients. It can be soy-free. It melts when spread on hot food and has a clean rich taste.

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cold water
2/3 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon agar powder
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup finely shredded UN-sweetened coconut
1/3 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mix in a microwavable bowl or a small saucepan, mix the cornmeal and 1/3 cup of the cold water. Stir in the agar powder, and then the hot water.

Cook in a double-boiler-type arrangement (with the saucepan inside of another pan of simmering water) for 10 minutes, OR MICROWAVE on high power in the bowl for 1 minute, whisk, microwave 1 minute more, whisk, and microwave 1 minute more.

Place this in a blender along with the warm water, coconut, milk, lemon juice, and salt. Blend for several minutes, until as smooth as possible (this is important). Be patient! It may have a bit of graininess from the coconut, but should not have much.

Place in a covered container in the refrigerator. It firms up nicely, but remains spreadable. It's good on veggies, too, and you can add garlic and broil it for garlic toast (maybe with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan).
Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per 2 tablespoons): 27.8 calories; 53% calories from fat; 1.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 151.9mg sodium; 27.3mg potassium; 2.8g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 0.2g sugar; 2.2g net carbs; 0.6g protein; 0.6 points.



GlutenFreeHappyTummy said...

i am SO trying this! yum!

Anonymous said...

The boursin type spread is absolutely delicious and does very much taste like the real thing, or as much as I remember in any event. I did find the coconut-corn spread way too salty with 1 1/4 tsp of salt and even my salt-aholic room mate thought it too much. But, having said that, while I followed the written instructions there is no mention on when to add the 1/3 cup of milk and had left it out and that probably didn't help. I made a second batch, with the milk and reduced salt and it was better. Quite a genius idea, this "butter".

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Oops! Thanks for the heads-up! The milk goes in with the coconu, etc. I've corrected the text.