Happy Heart Vegan Gourmet, a new raw vegan cheese company, just launched in Ontario, Canada, last month. Although not the country’s first vegan cheese shop, the company claims it is the first to employ traditional French cheese-making methods to produce its line of gourmet plant-based cheese.
The Happy Heart collection includes a variety of handmade, small batch raw vegan cheeses, all sustainably packaged using recycled materials. Each authentically French flavor is made with a cashew base that is crafted with plant-based cultures to give each flavor that classic French je ne sais quoi. These cultures also make for an enzyme-packed, probiotic final product. In addition to being vegan, the cheeses are also gluten and soy free.
Disappointed with the current vegan cheese options in their area, owners Fabio and Maria Variola spent a year in Europe researching traditional cheese making techniques in order to successfully replicate this gourmet product – without relying on artificial ingredients. The Variolas hosted wine and cheese parties across Spain, Italy, and France to test and refine their plant-based cheeses. Upon overwhelming approval from these European cheese aficionados, the couple established their company’s permanent location in Ottawa, Ontario. According to Happy Heart’s website, the “delighted customers cannot believe these delicious dairy-free raw cashew cheeses are actually possible!”
Current flavors include fresh and aged offerings. The fresh flavors (Petit Épicé and Petit Shèvre) are cultured for two to three weeks, which creates a silky smooth texture and bright flavor profile. The four aged varieties are cultured for four to six weeks, which makes for an authentic rind and complex, developed flavors. The aged cheeses are harder in texture, making them sliceable opposed to spreadable. Flavors include Petit Cam, PetitFumé, Petit Cendré, and the classic Petit Bleu.
Vegan cheese companies are beginning to refine their production processes in order to create more authentic, artisan cheese plate-worthy products. A fellow Ontario-based vegan company, Nuts for Cheese, also uses cultured cashews to produce its line of “funky” cheeses. In New York, a start-up company called RIND is working on scaling its microbe-infused process to bring its bold vegan cheeses to the market. Cheese fans can also make their own aged vegan cheeses at home with the help of vegan cheese cookbooks.
Image Credit: Happy Heart Vegan Gourmet