Honey Walnut Tofu Cream Cheese

My high school existence was powered by the hope of wooing my secret crush in history class, the opening of a Forever 21 at our local mall, over-quoting Old School, and copious amounts of Panera honey walnut cream cheese.

A healthy version of Panera Honey Walnut Cream Cheese that's packed with protein and paleo friendly!

Honey walnut cream cheese was a staple component of my diet senior year. As seniors, we had the distinct privilege of being allowed to drive off campus for lunch, a right of passage we students anticipated with longing and embraced with vigor. Every day at 12:10 p.m., our steady stream of old Jeeps and rusty Toyotas poured out of the parking lot, then dispersed to every fast-food destination within a 2-mile radius. We only had a half hour to grab our chow and be back at our desks, so at least two days a week, I zipped into Panera for a cinnamon crunch bagel, smeared with a solid inch of honey walnut cream cheese.

In retrospect, eating a bagel the size of my face topped with enough honey walnut cream cheese to bake a respectably-sized cheesecake was not the best dietary decision, but I was 17 and blissfully ignorant. To this day, I still love the sweet, nutty taste of honey walnut cream cheese, so I decided to see if I could invent a healthy version that I could feel comfortable slathering on my bagels with excess.

Skinny Copycat Panera Honey Walnut Cream Cheese made with tofu.

A tofu cream cheese that tastes exactly like Panera Honey Walnut cream cheese!

I found my healthy cream cheese inspiration on my last trip to New York City. Our hotel was ideally situated one block from the great Murray’s Bagels, the ideal sustenance to fuel a long morning of city exploring (ahem, shopping and people watching). I noticed tofu “cream cheese” on the menu, and in an adventurous moment, I decided to try it—delicious. If I hadn’t known that it was tofu, I would have assumed I was back at my high school Panera, piling on the schmear with reckless abandon.

Inspired by Murray’s, I made my own tofu cream cheese but in my favorite honey walnut flavor. Its base is a combination of silken tofu and raw cashews, which blend into a creamy, dreamy protein-packed spread. Lemon juice provides the signature cream-cheese tang, vanilla extract and cinnamon add lovely background notes, and honey makes the spread sweet and addictive.

Once the spread is whipped together, you can fold in any variety of toasted nuts you like. I stuck with the classic walnut, but I imagine that almonds, pecans, and pistachios would be lovely too.

Protein packed honey walnut spread. This tofu cream cheese tastes amazing on everything!

Healthy Honey Walnut Tofu Cream Cheese. Perfect on bagels or with dip!

I’ve been enjoying this healthy version of honey walnut cream cheese dipped with fruit (it’s wonderful with grapes), stirred into oatmeal, and of course, smeared all over my bagels. My latest find is Cobbleston Bread Co. 100% whole wheat bagels. Most of the bread products labeled “multi-grain” or “whole wheat” in stores are deceptive and offer fewer whole grains than they imply (read the label—many have more refined, white flour than fiber-rich whole wheat flour). While 100% whole wheat sandwich bread is fairly available, CBC is the first bagel option I’ve found that is completely whole grain. They’re super soft and tasty, and with this healthy honey walnut cream cheese, they make a convenient, filling breakfast that’s perfect for busy mornings. I wish I could travel back in time and give a hearty supply to my hungry high school self.

Hight Protein Honey Walnut Tofu Cream Cheese

Though I’ve become wiser about the make-up of my bagels and honey walnut cream cheese since high school, I’m certain that I’ve had the quantity right all along. Slather it on thick and enjoy every rich, creamy, honey-kissed bite!

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Honey Walnut Tofu Cream Cheese

A recipe for copycat Panera honey walnut cream cheese, this high protein tofu cream cheese has all of the decadent flavor and none of the guilt!


Yield: about 2 cups

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:


  • 1, 16-ounce block silken tofu

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

  • 4 tablespoons honey (if vegan, use maple syrup)

  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts


Directions:


  1. Wrap the tofu in paper towels and press out excess moisture. Wait 30 seconds, then repeat with fresh paper towels.

  2. Place the pressed tofu in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then add the cashews, honey, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Blend until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.

  3. Transfer the tofu cream cheese to a small bowl and fold in the walnuts. Cover and refrigerate to allow the mixture to thicken, about 4 hours or overnight. Enjoy spread on Cobblestone Bread Co. bagels or English muffins, on toast, mixed with oatmeal, dipped with fruit, or right out of the container.


Leftover tofu honey walnut cream cheese can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Stir before serving.


All images and text ©/Well Plated.

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I am sharing this post in partnership with Cobblestone Bread Co., via AOL Media. As always, all opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to continue providing quality content to you!

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

24 comments

  1. Oh man- we had open campus all four years of high school and I remember that rush of being able to go out to lunch!! No wonder I was obese… ;-) Love this healthy twist!!

  2. I can think of endless days my mid morning snack during my senior high school days were filled with honey cream cheese smeared onto a fluffy bagel! Great minds think alike, I supposed! And now I can make a healthier version at home? I am there!

  3. You do make it sound really good!! I’ve never had tofu before but it’s worth a shot!

  4. This is why I need you in my life! You point me in the right schmear direction! xoxo

  5. My heart just did a little hop, skip and a beat. :) LOVE honey walnut cream cheese, and I would never in a million years even think to try tofu cream cheese, let alone make it. This may need to be my inaugural tofu recipe test….

  6. Thank you for taking the guilt out of this CC. Now I can eat 2x the amount and not cry about it afterwards. BRING ON THE HONEY WALNUT!

  7. Clearly, I have not been adventurous enough with cream cheese flavors – I’ve never even seen varieties beyond the typical strawberry or chive ones! Honey walnut sounds fantastic, and the fact that I can enjoy this without worrying about overdosing on dairy is just the icing (cream cheese?) on top!

  8. This looks so good Erin and way better than the prepackaged tofu cream cheese you see at the store, most of that stuff is gagging! I can’t wait to give it a try!

  9. Oh man, we never got to go off campus for lunch, buuuut I think this will make up for it! I’ll take 2 bagels and schmear please!

  10. Sounds so good. Thank you Erin.

  11. What a neat idea, I love this healthy twist.  And tofu!?  Never would have thought!

  12. Man, I miss those days in HS when a bagel slathered with a crazy amount of cream cheese was my after school snack. What I wouldn’t give to have that metabolism back!
    This is a seriously happy flavor of cream cheese, and it won’t upset anyone’s tummy. I’m a fan!

  13. Erin this is BRILLIANT! It’s also one of my favorite cream cheese flavors too! Ohmygosh and MURRAYS!!!!!! I dream of that place <3 

  14. Oh my goodness Erin!! This is incredible. I recently had to go dairy-free due to chronic health issues and I could do a happy dance over seeing this recipe. I cannot wait to try this! :)

  15. Oh my gosh I love this! I definitely need to try this out. I too ate my fair share of cinnamon crunch bagels with the honey walnut cream cheese from panera (for me it was during college – we didn’t have a panera near us growing up – craziness!).

  16. Hi Erin, I’ve always loved honey walnut spread; first from Bruegger’s, then from Einstein’s and now from Panera! I always wondered why they made any other types of flavored cream cheese; this is the best! Thanks, can’t wait to try!

  17. Oh wow, love this vegan hack! Looks awesome and a healthier spin with a ton more protein :)

  18. Ah yes, I remember those days in high school! Although I used to hide in the senior’s backseat when I just a freshman so my irresponsible eating habits started at a much younger age. :)

    The cinnamon crunch bagel at Panera was definitely a favorite of mine too but now I’m much more likely to enjoy a whole grain bagel with a healthier cream cheese like this one. It sounds amazing!!

  19. Honey, cinnamon, walnuts.. this spread must be very delicious!

  20. I love bagels but never thought of this..what a neat cream cheese recipe.

  21. Oh boy, do your descriptions ever bring back some memories. I think Panera fueled a lot of our high school experiences. I had NO clue you could make cream cheese from tofu. What a killer idea!

  22. i am going to make this! thanks.
    glad every1 had a good high school. mine was hell from severe bullying and had to leave . wish i had luck………………………

    • Nadia, I’m sorry to hear you had a hard time in high school. It can be a very difficult period! Thank you for trying the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

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