Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cream Cheese

January 16th 018

At one point in my life I had a love affair with Panera Bread. Haven’t we all? I remember when I was writing my thesis working in the same Panera Bread for at least 4 hours and taking advantage of the free refills. Well, not being able to eat wheat put a huge wedge in our relationship. I pine for their cinnamon crunch bagels to be back in my life.

January 16th 015

Another favorite of mine was their reduced-fat hazelnut cream cheese. It’s tart, nutty, and sweet, and a perfect pairing for that cinnamon bagel I was talking about. I decided to try and make my own without dairy. At first I didn’t love the flavor, but by the next day everything tasted ten times better. It reminds me of the filling for my raw cheesecake recipe. And who wouldn’t love cheesecake filling on a bagel? This is slightly healthy for you, but more importantly completely delicious.

Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cream Cheese


  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 4 hours
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 Tablespoons coconut milk or other non-dairy milk

January 16th 007

Soak the cashews if you haven’t already done so and drain off the water. Add the first 4 ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until it’s smooth and homogenous. Next add in the nutritional yeast and cinnamon and process again, slowly adding in the coconut milk until it reaches a cream cheese-like consistency.

Store in a refrigerator for up to a week.

January 16th 022

Like I said, this tasted much better the next day. The consistency was perfect for me—thick but easily scooped and spread. It tastes nutty, spicy, and has a nice tang from the lemon juice that balances with the nutritional yeast to taste like real cream cheese.

January 16th 005

An aside on the bagels I use: I never buy gluten-free bread. There are so many other foods that are naturally gluten-free that I just don’t bother looking for replacements. But I really wanted photos to do this recipe justice and when I went to Trader Joe’s to buy regular wheat bagels I found these Udi’s gluten-free bagels for $4.50—“cheap” compared to other stores. I have to admit these were spot on in flavor and texture to regular bagels. I wouldn’t buy them regularly simply because I’m not used to having bread in my diet anymore, but if anyone’s looking for a gluten-free bread replacement I’d recommend these.

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36 Responses to Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cream Cheese
  1. Erica
    January 24, 2011 | 10:24 am

    oh my gosh! This looks amazing. I think I could eat the cream cheese with a spoon alone 😉 ohhh panera. I use to use them mainly for their wifi and free samples 🙂

  2. Valerie @ City|Life|Eats
    January 24, 2011 | 10:30 am

    This is brilliant. Totally brilliant. I will make it just as soon as I buy hazelnuts. I did not realized you were gluten-intolerant – I am as well, and also had previous happy relationships with Panera and Bruegger’s bagels.

  3. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg
    January 24, 2011 | 10:32 am

    Mmmm…I love spreads like this. Yum!

    Ryan and I went to Panera once and they had baked too much bread and were giving away loaves of their french bread, warm from the oven. Yeah…we ate the entire thing in the car on the ride home.

  4. Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes
    January 24, 2011 | 10:32 am

    My love for Panera bread is still ongoing. It’s the hazelnut coffee and the free wifi that keeps me coming!

    But you’re right about their lowfat hazelnut cream cheese. It’s definitely the best one! Way to go, making a vegan version!

  5. Meg
    January 24, 2011 | 10:49 am

    I’m with you on not buying gluten free bread. I used to, but it’s honestly not even worth it.

    This recipe looks divine. I’d probably eat it like pudding, no big deal.

  6. Kristina @ Life as Kristina
    January 24, 2011 | 11:07 am

    That looks incredible!

  7. Corey @ the runner's cookie
    January 24, 2011 | 11:36 am

    Wow – again, something you could sell, Evan 🙂 This looks seriously awesome. You have the best ideas and always use real ingredients that I would actually have in my house. Bagels + cream cheese…can’t get much more comforting than that!

  8. Kristina at spabettie
    January 24, 2011 | 11:50 am

    this looks GREAT… add dates to it and it turns into a lovely dessert topping… 🙂

  9. Christin@purplebirdblog
    January 24, 2011 | 12:39 pm

    That sounds amazing. Being that I’m cutting dairy from my life, and cutting back on wheat as well, this appeals to me on so many levels. I purchased the Udi’s ready made pizza crusts the other day and have to say I’m pretty impressed!

  10. JL goes Vegan
    January 24, 2011 | 12:55 pm

    Fantastic looking recipe! I’ve been increasing my (vegan) raw intake and collecting creative recipes. This is a keeper! Thanks!

  11. Heather (Where's the Beach)
    January 24, 2011 | 1:05 pm

    This looks awesome. I made a strawberry one sort of similar and loved it. Interesting addition of the nutritional yest.

  12. Kate (What Kate is Cooking)
    January 24, 2011 | 1:08 pm

    This could not have come at a better time. I was just telling my sister how much I love that cream cheese, but its more expensive than the bagel!

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JL , Evan Thomas. Evan Thomas said: Eat your heart out, Panera. #raw #vegan hazelnut cream cheese recipe: http://su.pr/1AzPyL […]

  14. Sana
    January 24, 2011 | 2:12 pm

    Best post everrrr!

  15. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    January 24, 2011 | 3:13 pm

    love your spin on this recipe!

    i love making raw vegan cheezecake and it starts with soaked cashews + lemon + sweetener.

    love that you put hazelnuts and cinnamon in it! I want some 🙂

  16. elise
    January 24, 2011 | 3:15 pm

    i love udi’s products. they have the BEST granola. i disagree that the bagels taste like the real deal. they are fluffier and more eggy tasting, but definitely yummy.

  17. Stephanie
    January 24, 2011 | 3:24 pm


  18. Ashley
    January 24, 2011 | 3:30 pm

    Oh my goodness! I would gnaw on my computer if I thought it tasted anywhere near as good as these pictures look. Thanks for making me hungry! I’ll have to try this out sometime

  19. Debbie
    January 24, 2011 | 4:27 pm

    OMG, my favorite bagel is half peanut butter half cream cheese, this sounds like a happy marriage and I love cashews. I have never made my own cream cheese, exciting!

  20. Salah@myhealthiestlifestyle
    January 24, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    hello. I want that cream cheese now. End of story 🙂

  21. Amanda (Eating Up)
    January 24, 2011 | 7:24 pm

    Yessss the Panera love continues! Hazelnut cream cheese rocks. I’m sure your raw cheeze version does too!

  22. Devon (Run Sleep Rinse Repeat)
    January 24, 2011 | 8:17 pm

    When I saw you post this on Twitter earlier, I was a little confused. Looks amazing though!

  23. Virginia @ YtotheUmmy
    January 24, 2011 | 8:23 pm

    wow! I just found your blog and I already found something I’d like to tr! This looks super tasty, good job 🙂

  24. Vanessa
    January 24, 2011 | 9:56 pm

    Oh I once had a love affair with those damn Cinnamon Crunch bagels from Panera. Haven’t had one in ages! Your hazelnut cream cheese looks delish!

  25. Hannah
    January 24, 2011 | 10:50 pm

    I AM IN LOVE. DO you think this dish would marry me? I think we’d be very happy together… until I ate it all.

    I’m actually just working on a raw vegan cheese post myself. Serendipity!

  26. A Tablespoon of Liz
    January 24, 2011 | 11:17 pm

    This looks really good… I miss cream cheese.

  27. Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon
    January 25, 2011 | 12:06 am

    Holy Delicious-ness this looks fabulous! Over the past couple years I’ve gotten more and more into making my own spreads, dressings, and condiments in general, and this is definitely on the list of things I need to try soon! I would love it on a slice of toast or a pumpkin muffin 🙂

  28. Adam
    January 25, 2011 | 3:25 am

    Who needs bread? Not with this recipe… Just a spoon, or a fork, or a finger.

  29. Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl
    January 25, 2011 | 8:37 am

    I think I would eat that cream cheese straight up! Looks yummy!

  30. Holly @ couchpotatoathlete
    January 25, 2011 | 10:03 am

    My 2 younger sisters worked at Panera when they were in high school (and I was in college) and I remember all of the bread/bagels they would bring home night. Those cinnamon crunch bagels are the best! You are so right.

    Great recipe — I definitely need more hazelnut cream cheese in my life.

  31. Amy
    January 25, 2011 | 11:38 pm

    This sounds delicious! I would much rather have this cream cheese than the regular dairy version any day!

  32. Baking 'n' Books
    January 26, 2011 | 9:52 pm

    This looks interesting. Why do you need to soak the cashews? Is that necessary?

  33. Tiffany
    January 26, 2011 | 11:56 pm

    Cool! I think I’ll try this! I like that you combined cashews and hazelnuts!

  34. […] Raw Vegan Hazelnut Cream Cheese from The Wannabe […]

  35. Anne P
    March 19, 2011 | 2:58 pm

    Whoa. That is all.

  36. Amber Shea @Almost Vegan
    March 20, 2011 | 10:06 pm

    Yay, loving the rawness here! I’d love to stir a pinch of probiotic powder in there and age it in the dehydrator for a little tang, even.