Cheri… and her Problem
Hi, I’m Cheri.
I love to cook and entertain. But after a lifetime of eating anything I wanted, at the age of 62, I learned I had 4 food allergies: Wheat, Dairy, Eggs and Peas. It turned out that some of the symptoms my auto-immune disorders were being made worse by the foods I ate. Ugh.
Learning to cook in entirely new ways and figuring out how to read the fine print on labels became a full-time job. The early months were difficult, with many failures and frustrations. As time went on, I became more confident and developed new versions of old favorite recipes using substitutes that came close to the original ingredients.
I found new combinations of gluten-free flours that could simulate traditional flours in most any situation. I learned there were many egg substitutes depending on how the egg was used in the original recipe. Peas can be replaced by other green vegetables. But what to do with milk? That was a problem…
Non-dairy milk substitutes have always been a problem for cooking.
Most substitutes taste okay when used in coffee,
but none work well in recipes.
Finding another way…
In 2019, I began to search for something better.
What I was really hoping for was something I could use to make a really great tasting gravy. After researching alternatives and discussing ideas with my chef friend Eileen, and my engineer husband Chris, we started by doing experiments to figure out what made a good milk substitute.
One of our first tests was “the pudding test”. If you look at most pudding boxes at the store it will say right there on the pack of pudding “Don’t use milk substitutes.” As a baseline, we used whole milk. When it is made per the instructions, you can stand a spoon in the pudding. Any other choice, almond, soy, etc. you name it, not so much. None of them worked.
We also did viscosity tests, boiling points and many other characteristics as we studied all the ingredient lists of the various brands on the market. Finally we decided we would start our own experiments – but on what? Being from a hazelnut farming family, my friend Eileen suggested we try hazelnuts to see what they could do.
In early tests, we had looked as some commercially available hazelnut beverages, but the off-putting colors and poor taste did not seem like a good choice. However, the hazelnut nutritional profile was remarkably similar to dairy milk so we decided it was worth a try.
Many nuts and grains can be used to make a non-dairy milk substitute.
Few are as close to dairy as hazelnuts are.
Finding the perfect process…
Every part of the process had to be developed.
We spent weeks developing the right way to prepare the nuts for roasting, months developing a unique roasting profile to create the light flavor profile and slight sweetness that remains muted when used in recipes that uses dairy milk. Mouth feel required many experiments and variations. Finally, we had to work to develop a light milk-like light color.
After over a year of refinement, we circled back to our original benchmarks. First, the pudding test. It worked!
Then on to gravy. The first time I made gravy with our new milk substitute, I cried. It had been so long since I could enjoy rich thick gravy. Once we had the recipe figured out, we made everything we could think of that used dairy milk. We shared our creation with some with friends and family and they tried it in even more recipes.
Ice cream, cocktails, cheese sauce, and soup. There seemed to be no dish it couldn’t work with. And it made a pretty tasty coffee creamer too.
"The first time I made gravy with our new milk substitute, I cried."
Sharing it with the world…
Eventually, we perfected our process and our friends and family told us it was great.
So, we decided to see if there was a way to share this great new idea with people everywhere. We're not some giant conglomerate with a multi-million dollar R&D budget so we had to find a different way of delivering our dairy free delight to the masses.
We looked at bottles, cans and cartons like everyone else. But then we came up with our unique package when we realized how much easier it was to store the product in its paste form than to make people buy it and store it as a liquid. it takes up less room in the pantry and has better shelf life. You only use it as you need it.
Better yet, you control the richness. That means you decide how thick and creamy it is depending on what you are using it for. Versatile and easy to use.
That's Cheri's HazelCream.
Now you know the backstory of how we came to make Cheri’s HazelCream.
We hope it solves your Dairy-Free cooking challenges and helps you create more great tasting meals that your whole family will enjoy.
Building for the future
We are starting with our 2 pack of creamy goodness but we believe there's more to come…
A lot depends on you, our current and future customers.
Please use our contact page to tell us what flavors and packaging you'd like to see in the future. It might just happen!