Disclaimer: Chicago Soydairy contacted me several weeks ago regarding my sticky experience with their Dandies Vegan Marshmallows. They wanted to send me a couple of complimentary packages of marshmallows and were also kind enough to include a package of their mozzarella Teese Vegan Cheese. In a future post I’ll talk more about the marshmallows.
It is an oft-said thing that commercially produced vegan cheese is terrible, tastes like and has an overall plastic-like quality about it, and that one will never spend another $5 on it ever again. It rarely melts, usually in favor of sweating instead. It is chewy, not squeaky. Above all else, it does not taste like cheese.
Whenever I begin to notice some rumblings on the Internet about the Holy Grail of cheeses having been found, my curiosity is piqued and I read about it, then salivate for a couple of years. This is pretty much what happened when I started to hear about Teese. Everywhere I read I saw people raving about it and showing off their delicious, vegan cheesy pizzas. The problem? It wasn’t sold anywhere close to me. Even now it is only in select places in my geographic region – so I was very excited to know I would finally be trying Teese.
My first observations
When I first received the package from Chicago Soydairy, I was surprised to see the way the Teese Vegan Cheese was packaged. It came in a log shape, and was essentially shrink-wrapped. I used a knife to slice off the end, and then was able to unwrap the rest of the cheese.
The cheese itself is very white, and smooth. Upon cutting a slice I realized how much it mimics the apperance of a fresh mozzarella slice, although it does not have the stringy consistency of real mozzarella. When sliced it holds together pretty well, however it is very easy to break it in half. Teese can also easily be mashed up, so it becomes a little more like ricotta.
The taste and texture of Teese on its own
After opening up the package of Teese I had a quick taste of it by itself. The taste reminds me a lot of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, with a hint of an imitation butter flavor. It doesn’t really taste like cheese, but I can say that the flavor is a huge improvement over most vegan cheeses I have tried. As far as the texture is concerned, it is very slightly gritty, yet mostly smooth.
Baking with Teese
Because so many people have talked about how great Teese is on pizza, I decided to make pizza with it. I used the pizza dough recipe from Convivial.
First I topped my pizza with my crushed tomatoes, green and black olives, mushrooms and onions, then because I don’t have a grater, I decided to put slices of Teese on my pizza.
I baked the pizza for probably a total of about 15-20 minutes, which I assumed would allow the Teese cheese to melt. But I discovered that it didn’t melt as much as I had expected, and the cheese still had the indentations of the knife even after it had melted a little bit.
That said, I have made a couple of pizzas since and have dotted them with much smaller pieces of the cheese, and they melted much better and also seemed to be a little more cheese-like and chewy in consistency.
The taste of the baked Teese cheese is a little more mild than its “raw” variety, and it really was a compliment to the other flavors of the pizza.
Even though Teese still doesn’t taste like real cheese to me, I do think that this is a vast improvement over most of the vegan cheeses on the market today. It has a nice mild flavor, and the texture is interesting both raw and when baked. And it does melt – but I need to experiment more to get it to melt even more. Of course, I still have a little left over so I will be curious to see how the Teese holds up in other recipes. Because of its raw ricotta consistency I imagine it might do really well in vegan lasagna, and it would be nice to see how it melts in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Although I have yet to see it in any of my favorite grocery stores, I am seeing online that the price is similar to other vegan cheeses – about $4.50+/- for a 10-ounce package. While it is not too expensive, I believe the price is still not low enough for many to warrant frequent purchase of it.
At the end of the day, I would recommend that you try it. If you’re skeptical it’s just going to be like all the other cheeses out there, give this one a chance and you might be happily surprised.
Have you tried Teese? How do you like it?