Creamy Vanilla Bean Cashew Milk.

Say hello to a self-proclaimed milk snob.

That’s me.

Since I was young, I’ve always absolutely looooathed milk. I would never ever drink it – the thought alone made me sick. The only ways I would consume it were in a bowl of cereal (only a few tablespoons to soak it though), in a milkshake (clearly) or hot chocolate and in some Quaker strawberries and cream instant oatmeal (OMG the best). When I would see others slurp the milk from a cereal bowl – pink or purple or chocolate or not – my skin crawled. Actually… it still sort of does. I didn’t even dip cookies in milk. I somewhat feel deprived of my entire youth for that, even though I still don’t have much desire to dunk a cookie in the stuff. Stop… ruining it.

I’m just WEIRD. Ignore me.

The only thing that was worse than all that was when I would see someone take a big gulp of milk MID-CHEW… which my cousin did about 20 years ago during lunch and which we still harass him over to this day. Like every time we get together. Sorry Chris.

Almond and coconut milk – especially vanilla flavored – were the answers to all of my prayers. I may be a chocolate girl at heart, but when it comes to flavored food or drink that isn’t an actual chocolate bar or brownie? Give me vanilla! I now have no problem drenching my cereals in the vanilla liquids, baking with them, pouring them in smoothies and possibly… just maybe… dipping in a cookie.

I’m not sure why or when it happened, but my cousin and I have been ob.sessed with the idea of making cashew milk.  I mean… truly ob.sessed. With that period and everything. Last fall we would take two hour walks with conversation centered around cashew milk and cashew milk only.

And I’ve been buying big bags of cashews for months… but we… eat them all before I remember to soak them. Oye.

But this was the week! The topic came up in a discussion I had with Rachel and she gave me the swift kick in the pants I needed to go downstairs to my makeshift pantry, walk back UP the stairs, dump the cashews in a bowl and fill it with water before going to bed.

I made two batches: one with actual vanilla beans, ground cinnamon and honey, and a second with pure vanilla extract, cinnamon sticks and honey. The latter came into play after my husband took one look at the milk and asked why I was drinking something with bugs in it. I adore vanilla beans – I would lick them straight outta the pod if they didn’t cost an arm and two legs – but I can see how the appearance could freak some people out. That’s why I’m showing you the freaky bean spotted milk. I love to freak you out!

Oh oh oh! And actually even crazier? I made this without a fancy blender. I actually used the stupid Magic Bullet which I’d like to throw out a ten-story window (not a fan)… and while I am dyyyying for a big time blender, I also am more concerned with these shoes and about a million other things that are more important to me than a $600 piece of plastic with blades that will most likely chop my fingers off. For a hot 30 seconds I appreciated that bullet as it gave me some thick vanilla cashew milk that I have been drowning in ever since.

And now that I’ve written more about milk than I did about pancakes and beans combined this week, I’m gonna go take a breath.

Creamy Vanilla Bean Cashew Milk

[only slightly adapted from Elana’s Pantry]

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews

6 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or 2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks

2 1/2 tablespoons honey (more if desired)

pinch of salt

Place cashews in a large glass bowl and cover with water, soaking overnight. In the morning, drain cashews and rinse until the water runs clean. Combine cashews and water in a blender (Obviously high speed blenders are the best – I did mine in batches since I used the Magic Bullet, it along with a lower end blender will give you a tiny bit more pulp) and puree until completely combined.

Using either a very fine mesh strainer or doubled-over cheesecloth (you can see I tried both methods above) placed over a large bowl, strain cashew milk, using the back of a spoon to really press ALL the liquid out – this will take a few minutes. Set the cashew “pulp” aside. Once the milk is separated from all the pulp, transfer it back to the blender and add in your ground cinnamon, salt, honey and vanilla. If you’d rather just place vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks in the milk to flavor, add the milk to the blender with the honey and salt, then pour it into a container and throw the full split beans and cinnamon sticks inside.

Refrigerate and shake before using. Should stay fresh in the fridge for a week!

Ooooh and ten points to whoever gives me the best idea for using all that cashew pulpy stuff.