Pizza cheese doesn't get the credit it deserves, normally. A good pizza cheese can make a poor pizza good and a good pizza great and it is often the difference whether or not when you taste a pizza and your eyes roll back with pleasure or they simply wonder if it is worth it and stare down at the grease left behind. However, what happens when you don't want to or can't eat cheese?
Wilmersburger gave their best answer with Pizza Shreds. Made with water, coconut oil, starch, salt, wheat protein, 'natural flavoring', spices, acidity regulator and lactic acid.
I'm not going to go off on a tangent about 'natural flavoring' though I really want to. No, instead all I will say is that I'm not a fan. I understand it, especially when it comes to food that is trying to replicate something else, still I'm not a fan. But this isn't about the merit of an ingredient(s) that feels purposefully hidden from consumers.
With that being said the biggest questions I had were, 'does it really melt' and 'does it taste good'.
So there are a couple things to go through first. I made a pizza (naturally), second I did not go to this address www.wilmersburger.de/en/tips to get tips on how to melt the cheese properly (spoiler alert).
So the pizza, simple enough. Burger (pre made vegan patties) with onion and mushrooms.
My initial impression of the pizza shreds was that the actually looked really great on the finished uncooked pizza. Very much like the real product though the smell was rather distinctive. Very nutritional yeasty not unpleasant just very distinctive. The color reminded me a bit of when I was young and ate grilled cheese sandwiches made from processed cheese, again not all together surprising considering that the pizza shreds are not made at all with dairy and processed. But overall very pleasant to which I became very excited at the prospect of eating.
Yeah, it didn't really melt, though I did notice that when bits of the 'shreds' mixed with the sauce it did create a very nice melted look. So successful...perhaps. If I had read the tips posted on their website and felt like following said tips ( being from Canada it feels weird to put all the cheese below the ingredients) the result from the melting test might have been different. But, partially successful melted pizza.
But how was the flavor? Well; to be honest, excellent. It felt soft and creamy in my mouth, the flavor didn't dominate the pizza but wasn't invisible either. And the 'shreds' held the mushrooms, onion and burger bits together and locked all the ingredients to the pizza with the kind of expectation one has when eating cow pizza cheese.
The only real negative comes with the nutrition, though if you are eating pizza in the first place chances are nutrition isn't highly important in that moment, with a relatively high 26g of fat per 100g portion and 302 calories per portion.
These 'shreds' aren't going to be for everyone, even if you are vegan. I know that some vegans will still order their pizza without cheese and with hopes that there isn't egg in the dough (there often is in North America, less so in Europe). But I will say that the Wilmersburger vegan alternative folks have done an excellent job with this product and while it may be a bit pricey for many for every day use, if you do like a creamy, cheesy pizza and you can afford it, it is a great choice to make, you won't be disappointed.