Smoked Coconut Gouda (Part Deux) and the #Cheesegate Incident


It's all about the cheese. The most popular posts on my blog are all to do with cheese. Cheese is one of the last things that people who want to go vegan struggle to give up. Often, it's the food that even die-hard vegans miss the most. Store bought vegan cheese, up until most recently, has mostly been a sad and plasticine substitute.

Until vegan cheese extraordinaires Miyoko Schinner and Skye Michael Conroy entered the cheese scene a couple of years back, most of us didn't know that vegan cheese could taste any good, or melt, or even pass as not only as an acceptable substitute for dairy cheese, but as an exceptional real vegan cheese that stands up to any dairy counterpart.

Hence, I've been developing unique vegan cheese recipes for almost as long as I've been blogging.

Smoked Coconut Gouda 2

So, I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me when a friend of mine brought to my attention that an Internationally Published Vegan Magazine recently featured my original Smoked Coconut Gouda recipe in a Special Vegan Cheese feature they are running for the Holidays.

What did surprise me though is that this magazine had printed my recipe without my express permission. Their article claimed the recipe was adapted from my site, but the ingredient list was the exact same and the directions were only very carefully reworded, but with the same end result. That doesn't even come close to what my understanding of what an adaptation is. Also, if you'll look to the right hand side of my toolbar, you'll notice that I've always had a copyright statement on my site, which should have given the magazine a pretty good clue that they ought to obtain my permission before publishing my recipe.

In the beginning, I was pretty upset about it, as stealing content from my site is not in any way a form of flattery to me. Also, this magazine made a profit off of using my recipe for one of their headlines for which I never saw a penny. I contacted the company to voice my concerns and they told me they "don't have the time to contact every blogger with a brief mention in their magazine, and that most people they feature are grateful for the free mass publicity they receive." To me, these kind of ethics, especially within a vegan company who you would expect to have a stronger moral compass stinks. Almost as much as a smelly ripe cheese. If you want to read more about that incident, it all unfolds on my personal and business facebook pages.

Cheese Toasty 1

Anyway, I hadn't thought about this particular recipe in quite some time and seeing it again in print made me realize that the original cheese recipe didn't melt as well as I would have liked, that the steps in the recipe were too complicated and that perhaps I was using too many ingredients to achieve the end result.

In other words, the #cheesegate incident caused me to retool the Smoked Coconut Gouda. Lucky you. This new version has just 8 ingredients (excluding water), and comes together in less than 10 minutes flat for hands on time. Also, you'll be surprised to find that it doesn't actually taste anything like coconut. So, allow me to introduce:

Smoked Coconut Gouda 1

New and Improved Smoked Coconut Gouda


In a medium saucepan, add the coconut milk, water, Vegemite, Marmite or Kittee's Vegan Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast, kappa carrageenan, tapioca starch, liquid smoke and sea salt. Whisk together the ingredients until completely smooth.

Heat the saucepan to medium heat on the stove top and cook while whisking constantly for about 7-9 minutes until the mixture has thickened nicely and is very glossy. You'll know it's ready when it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan as you stir.

Remove the cheese mixture from the heat and quickly whisk in the apple cider vinegar.

Pour the cheese into a small container that can contain a minimum of 2 cups volume. I like using a round or square glass Tupperware, or my tofu press container.

If properly cooked, the cheese will start to set right away. Allow the cheese to set at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then put the cheese in the refrigerator to finish setting for 3 to 4 hours.

If the cheese doesn't set up properly that means you haven't cooked it long enough, if this happens to you, throw it back into the saucepan and cook for a few minutes more! It'll re-melt and then you can pour it back into the mold for it to solidify.

Remove the cheese from the mold and use it wherever you would use dairy cheese. This cheese is great for cutting into cubes or slices and snacking with crackers, or grated and melted over a pizza. I especially love it for broiled cheese toasties.

Notes: While this recipe is based on my original Smoked Coconut Gouda and is entirely my own, I plainly confess that I'm standing on the shoulders of vegan cheese giants and have used the cheese making methods that both Miyoko and Skye Micheal (both mentioned above) employ in creating their vegan cheese recipes. For them, I thank them for their vegan cheese genius and for paving a more delicious and melty way for the rest of us.

Kappa carrageenan is a product made from natural seaweed, however, it's a controversial ingredient for some people. I've done my research and have decided that I'm fine using it on occasion. If you do not wish to use this ingredient, you can substitute 2 heaped tablespoons Agar Agar Powder instead of the kappa carrageenan and follow the recipe in exactly the same manner. The cheese should still taste equally delicious, as well as still be able to be sliced, shredded and cubed, but it will not melt nearly as well.

Update: some of my readers have had some difficulty with the cheese setting up properly, this is likely due to the cheese mixture being under cooked, or forgetting to add the vinegar at the end of the recipe (which helps to firm the cheese). I've increased the cook time slightly above in hopes that everyone will get good results and a nice firm cheese! If for some reason your cheese doesn't get nice and firm, don't fret recook it with the instructions above! Or it can still be used like a spread for grilled cheese sandwiches, on crackers, etc. It will also still melt very nicely.

Farmer's Lunch Feastt

If you make the cheese and love it as much as I do, please respect me and the time I put into creating unique recipes by not sharing the print recipe on your own site, Facebook post or page, but by simply linking back to this post when sharing on social media. For Instagram use the hashtags #VedgedOut and #SmokedCoconutGouda


Somer & All the Vegan Cheese



  1. Ha! I love that it is straight up 8 ingredients, like I always do, so it was made for me right?! πŸ˜‰ I will definitely try this when I get a chance..I’m assuming I can find both the agar and Vegemite at Whole Foods? It looks scrumptious.

    1. Brandi! I thought you would enjoy that! Ha! So, Vegemite and Marmite are most likely to be found at an international grocer, I have several locations I can buy either at in Utah, but national chains such as Cost Plus or World Market usually carry them. However, vegan worcestershire sauce can be found in most health food stores and makes a fine substitute, you’re just looking for a bit of savory oomph here.

      As for the agar, I’ve found some whole foods locations carry it and some don’t. Most health food stores keep it stocked though, but just in case you may want to call in advance. Also, make sure to get the powder as the flakes do not perform in the same way.

      1. Awesome. I’ll look for them. Maybe a stupid question-but does it taste like coconut? I’m just asking because I use coconut milk all the time and find when mixed with other things, I don’t taste it at all. Was curious if that’s the case with this one. 😊 My husband hates the taste of coconut, so was just curious because I’d love to make a cheese at home that he would like.

  2. I cannot wait to try this.

    …and you know my stance on this disappointing turn of events. we are this International Magazine with A Huge Reach, so you should be honored. but oops, you are unhappy, so now we will minimize this Cover Headline Feature to “a brief mention”.


    B.S. !!

    1. It’s still theft ladies. There are, so I understand, laws governing the theft of intellectual property posted on the Internet. Don’t think for one second they’d be so sanguine if you reprinted their magazine without permission. Sic em! Oh, and happy holidays!

      1. Laurel, I agree, however I’m not willing to seek legal recourse. I think exposing their unethical business practice is enough. Bloggers will be guarding their recipes and readers will be more likely to steer clear of purchasing a magazine that engages in recipe theft.

        1. Somer, thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and techniques. I know your blog is about food — but the copyright issue you ran into is really concerning. I am so sorry you went through that and were treated so terribly, in the process. You might already have read this publication about copyright, or something similar, but I’m passing it along to you, just in case:

  3. Why does cheesegate always happen to you – didn’t this happen last year with your awesome Thanksgiving Turkey cheeseball? Some woman stole it and claimed it as her own? You just make awesome cheeses and one of these days I will work up the courage to try and make it myself, rather than salivate through my computer πŸ™‚

    1. I just read the link. Unfortunately the DMCA takedown isn’t an option since this is a print magazine, but if you’ll look to the right hand side of my sight and see the tool bar there, you’ll notice I have always had a copyright blurb that specifically asks readers not to share any of my content without my express permission.

      Thanks again.

      1. I share links to recipes I try all the time on my fb pg (while living through whole foods)…I’d love to try this and if I love it, which I think I will, can I share the link to this recipe?? My family thinks you have to have cheese so I try to show them vegan cheese can be awesome…Thanks for doing the hard part good us!

  4. yay for the new recipe! that meltyness!
    yeah i remember cheesegates from last year too… i think the moxarella or the cheese ball or both. you know your cheeses are divine!:)

    I think social media is a far better tool these days than legal action. hopefully the mag will hear from more people and the contributors and will have to change their ways. their site looks a bit shady too.

    1. Richa, yes, this keeps happening. Some would say if we don’t want content stolen then we shouldn’t put it out there, but I refuse to stop blogging just because a few sneaks don’t want to play fair.

      Also, I agree that social media is the best tool. I hope they make a change in company policy, and soon. Based on my experience, I cannot imagine how many other bloggers they have done this to that aren’t even aware. If my friend hadn’t tagged me in a twitter post after seeing the cheese in their magazine, I would have never known!

      1. Please don’t stop blogging! My husband and I gave up meat and dairy a little over two years ago and I get all my favorite recipes from sites like yours.

  5. Firstly, you rock. Like Kristina said, this was quite a bullshit blunder for them. (not to mention their graphic design straight up drives me crazy) I seriously can’t wait to try this recipe out. I have most of the ingredients and may have to do the less melty agar version but I’m sure it will taste out of this world. ❀

    1. Jackie, thanks so much for standing up for me. It feels validating that you, Kristina Slogget, Julie Hasson, Richa Hingle, Dianne Wenz and multiple other bloggers worth their salt are with me on this.

      None of you would be comfortable with this experience happening to you and I think that speaks volumes.

      Also, this should still be really delicious with the agar. It may even still melt a fair bit, I just don’t have any more coconut milk in my pantry to test it again.

  6. I am going to need a wheelbarrow to carry my abdomen around in after I get started on this but who cares, it’s amazing! Yeah a major suck-fest about that mag but what comes around, goes around and as you said, the vegan confraternity are a close knit group and we stand together Pinch our stuff at your peril folks! I can see all sorts of delicious smoky bean recipes making an appearance in chez Serendipity over the next few weeks. Cheers for this most awesome share Somer, you are the bomb πŸ™‚

    1. Agreed Fran, I don’t think any vegan blogger who is aware of this will be keen to work with them in the future.

      Enjoy the cheese! I look forward to hearing about your adventures!

  7. my gouda is in the fridge and i am so excited as i wait my 4 hours. i was so worried that mine was going to overcook and be ruined, so i kept to the recommended times. now i am worried that i didn’t cook it long enough. any recommendations?
    thanks for the great recipes somer. i’ve had your moxarella 3x this week! so delicious!

    (therewillbetoast on instagram)

    1. Hi Tracee!

      If the cheese is cooked properly, it will start to set almost immediately after being poured into the container. If it still feels soft to the touch on top, it’s likely under cooked.

      I’ve actually under cooked mine before on one of the tests I did with the recipe, if you’ve done the same, it will behave more like a thick cheese spread. It will still taste delicious and melt beautifully and can be spread on bread for cheese toasties.

      I may increase the cooking time on the post for a minute or two. Gas stoves will cook more quickly than electric stoves as well.

  8. No time to contact you to get permission!?! Wtf. Not really the way to conduct an ethical business. How much time does it take to shoot a form email?! I’m peeved for you as a fellow creator. That said, I’m glad you dug up and improved this recipe. I love your cheese recipes so so so much!

    1. JL, thank you, times one million. It feels good to have so many great bloggers and Vegan public figures stand in solidarity with me on this issue.

      That cheese though…. πŸ˜‰

  9. Sorry about the magazine cheesegate issue – that really stinks but you have brought attention to it and perhaps gave them something to think about! The cheese looks amazing! I just ordered the carrageenan from Amazon so I have to wait until next week to try this. Patience is a virtue!

    1. Tami, I really hope they will reconsider their company policy, as I can only imagine how many other people they’ve done this to in their years of publication.

      I hope you love the cheese! I’m excited you got the carrageenan!

  10. This looks so fantastic, I love how few ingredients there are and how quickly it comes together. Also I can’t believe the cheek of the magazine…well I kinda can because some people have shitty ethics but ugh, stuff like that makes me so angry!

  11. This looks so fantastic, I love how few ingredients there are and I appreciate the agar tip not because I avoid carrageenan but because I’m moving soon and can’t justify any fun new ingredients! Also I can’t believe the cheek of the magazine, well, no, I can because some people have shitty ethics but ugh, that stuff makes me so angry!

  12. Wow what a frustrating experience! I’m so sorry to hear about that! But good on you for (1) standing up for yourself and (2) perfecting your recipe even further in spite of all your frustrations. This recipe looks BOMB!

      1. Thanks – i might try that. I do use other starches in baking, but I know nothing gives the same texture as tapioca.

        But today I found new vegan cheeses at Whole Foods that are safe for me, too! I am trying Chao Slices first – but not until burger night. I think. LOL thanks for your awesome cheeses – i bet recipes authors like you have helped inspire companies to start making better vegan cheeses!

        1. Arrowroot is a stretchy alternative to cornstarch, but not as beautifully as tapioca seems to be from these pics… Yum!

        2. I decided to do like I do in baking, and use 3 starches – corn, arrowroot and potato. Potato is a bad idea! It gave it a furry mouth-feel. I know it was the potato because I once accidentally refilled the wrong bin, and made fudge with potato-starch-laced powdered sugar, and it had that same feel.

          I also did not get it thick enough. I wonder if you could alter the recipe so that instead of ‘nice and thick’ you said ‘as thick as gravy’ or ‘as thick as pudding’ or ‘too thick to stir’ or whatever. I did not forget the vinegar, but I stopped cooking at about 6 minutes, a minute after the mixture became much thicker. I did notice that my coconut milk had guar gum in it – is this a problem, or do they all have that?

          In the end, it was not the cheese for me. I remembered a bit too late that I never much liked smoked gouda.

          I will try your hard mox or pepperjack next!

  13. I actually found your blog through the Cheesegate Incident; lucky me! I left a comment with my low opinion of her the thievery and came here. You handled the situation beautifully, BTW. πŸ™‚

  14. Looks delicious! Can I skip the vegemite step or substitute it with something simple like soy sauce, nutritional yeast or spices? I don’t have all the ingredients for the Worcestershire Sauce.

  15. I sooo want to make this! looks so good! I am just curious, have you tried to freeze it? would that be possible? …. just asking because I like cheese every now and then but I’m sure I won’t finish the whole thing and I hate waste, or it’ll be good to know how long does it lasts in the fridge πŸ˜€ thanx!

    1. Gianina, I haven’t tried freezing the cheese as we always eat it so quickly. I would give it a go! The cheese has a shelf life of about 4-5 days refrigerated.

  16. Hi, Somer:
    First of all, I would like to say “thank you” for this awesome recipe. My picky significant other who would love to go vegan but can’t seem to give up cheese — he really, really loves your smoked gouda. The taste is awesome and we can’t seem to have enough of it. A quick question: When I try to melt it on, put some on a piece of pizza, and re-heated t at 350 degrees F… it didn’t melt. We tried at 400 degrees and it didn’t melt at all. Not sure where I went wrong? I put in all the ingredients according to the recipe, it set beautifully, hard and firm… but it just won’t melt. I did cook it at 11 or 12 minutes, worrying about the possibility of undercooking it. Do you think that may be the case? Any advice is great appreciated. Even if it doesn’t melt, I would still make it because it just tastes waaay too awesome! Thanks again for sharing and for all that you do!

    1. Priscilla, I’m not sure. I can melt it easily in a grilled cheese sandwich, on pizza or on a cheese toast or. Are you using agar or carrageenan? The recipe specifically states that afar doesn’t melt well. If not, Next time maybe try cooking it a little less? Best of luck.

      1. Hi, Somer:
        I used the Kappa carrageenan. I tried it again today, cooked it exactly at 7 minutes. Tried to melt it and it did soften up a bit (tastes heavenly!) but not melty at all. I’m thinking on my next batch I’ll cut it down to 6 minutes. LOL ^^ I’m wondering… tapioca starch and tapioca flour are pretty much the same thing, right? Your recipe calls for tapioca starch and I have been using tapioca flour. That’s the only “deviation” that I could tell from the recipe… Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions =)

        1. I’m completely perplexed as to why it won’t melt for you! Literally hundreds of readers have made it with melty success. It should be easy to melt! I’m so sorry! The cook time should be fairly inconsequential.

          1. Hi, Somer: I’m grateful that you took the time and was so patient in answering my questions. I think I’ve hit upon a reason why it’s not melting properly — my kappa carrageenan is waaay past the expiration date. LOL Thanks again for your patience and this awesome recipe.

            1. Hi, Somer: Just reporting baci — it melts!! I’ve made another batch and it melts beautifully! Whoohoo! Thanks again for this awesome recipe ❀

  17. Does anyone have a problem with agar agar powder giving the product a metallic flavor? I had the same results when using it in fermented vegan cheese recipes, and with two sources of agar powder so it isn’t brand. I used the 2 heaping T of agar agar powder option in this recipe because I didn’t have the other. Does anyone know if the Kappa also has that metallic flavor (before I purchase it?)

  18. Super new to this, I hate “smoked flavor” anything – does the recipe hold up without it? I love me some Gouda and strongly dislike anaphylactic response (dairy allergy has been worsening since childhood)


  19. Sooo… I’ve made it just a moment ago. It cools on my kitchen table, but I couldn’t wait and had to try! It’s smoky, salty, the consistency is very pleasant πŸ™‚ I’ve bought carrageenan specially for this recipe, it’s not easy to purchase it in my funny country (Poland), but It was definitely worth! Your recipe is from 2014, but for me it’s a total discovery! Thank you so much for your work, and for sharing! Xoxo

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