Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to soak for 12 hours*. If you can't get to them right away, drain, place back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. They will keep refrigerated for 24-36 hours.
Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to food processor. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, water (starting with lesser end of range), nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
Process until very creamy and smooth, scraping down sides and adding additional water as needed. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, garlic for zing, or salt for flavor + balance.
Place a fine mesh strainer (or colander) over a large mixing bowl, and lay down two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean, fine, absorbent towel).
Use a spatula to scoop all cheese over the cheesecloth, then gather the corners and twist the top gently to form the cheese into a "disc." Secure with a rubber band.
Place in refrigerator to set for at least 6 hours, preferably 12, or until excess moisture has been wicked away, and it holds its form when released from the cheesecloth. The longer it sits in the fridge the more it will firm up.
To serve, unwrap from cheesecloth and gently invert onto a serving platter. Reform with hands or cheesecloth as needed, then coat with chopped herbs and a bit more lemon zest (optional). It is fragile, so handle gently.
Enjoy chilled with crackers or vegetables. Cheese will hold its form for 1-2 hours out of the refrigerator, but best when chilled. Leftovers keep well covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
*If you're in a hurry, you can quick-soak the cashews by covering with boiling hot water and letting soak for 1.5 hours. Drain and proceed with recipe as instructed. However, for this recipe long soaking (for 12 hours in cool water) is best because the cashews slowly soften rather than being shocked, yielding a softer, creamier cheese. *Recipe adapted from Maple Spice and RawMazing. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate. *I use both garlic powder + fresh garlic because they offer different flavors (dried is more intense + fragrant, fresh is more intense + spicy).