YOU. GUYS. I AM SO STOKED ABOUT THIS ONE.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I have been struggling to recreate the original crème brûlée without any animal byproducts. The first attempts took place last summer, when I was convinced tofu was the answer to replicate that creamy, jiggling texture, as well as sort of ‘healthify’ (yuck) the recipe. Fail, fail, fail.
Then I tried it again last week, thinking this time for sure I had the answer. Cashews! If I just made a cashew cream, the texture would be bang on. Nah-uh. It was thick and creamy, sure, but where was that yummy jiggling? The pudding was solid and thick as muck. Back to square one.
Someone on Twitter then mentioned agar agar flakes. I had thought about it before but as you know I always try to keep things simple on this blog; that means avoiding rare and/or expensive ingredients if I can help it. Well I guess this time I couldn’t, so I gave that old transparent seaweed flakes a go.
AND LO AND BEHOLD – PERFECT CRÈME BRÛLÉE!
I am so ecstatic that all caps are required to express my joy. I DID! It jiggles! It’s yellow! It’s creamy! It’s SO EFFING YUMMY!
Sometimes there is a place and time for simplicity — and sometimes you have to crack a recipe using seaweed and a blowtorch. (I admit I felt super badass using the kitchen blowtorch. So badass.)
P.S.: Do read the notes on the recipe carefully. If you’ve never used agar or coconut milk in cooking before, READ THE NOTES.
P.P.S.: Cute cat photo at the bottom of this post, because I know you guys are besotted with Mali.
Quick & Easy Vegan Crème Brûlée
For the cream
800ml (3.25 cups) full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp brown or white sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping tbsp agar agar flakes
a dash of turmeric for colour
For the topping
6 heaping tsp white sugar
- Add all of the ingredients for the cream to a saucepan over high heat. You want to bring the coconut milk almost to the boil, stirring continuously as you do so to prevent burning and to mix all the ingredients evenly. The agar agar flakes should soon start to dissolve.
- When the milk looks like it’s about to boil, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir a few more times to ensure all the ingredients are evenly blended, then set aside to cool.
- Pour the cream into 6 individual ramekins and place in the fridge to set for about 3 hours. If you wish to leave the puddings in the fridge for longer, please see the notes below.
- Scatter a heaping teaspoon of white sugar evenly over each pudding, then caramelise using a kitchen blowtorch. Leave to cool for a minute, after which the caramel topping will be hard. Serve immediately, with a side of vanilla ice cream if desired.
Coconut milk always separates in the fridge. Although the agar agar flakes will hold together all of the ingredients, much like a panna cotta, a small bit of separation will occur if the ramekins are allowed to stay in the fridge for any longer than 5-6 hours; this will take form in some excess water around the puddings. Luckily these puddings are ready to serve after just 3 hours but if you needed to prepare the crèmes brûlées in advance, you would simply have to drain the excess liquid from the ramekins over a sink, holding your outstretched fingers close over the pudding to prevent it falling out altogether, then proceed with the topping as per the instructions. The puddings will otherwise remain intact and their flavour won’t be affected.
I hope you make these for some seriously epic dinner parties. That feeling when you swoop into the room bearing a tray of puddings that people think you slaved hours over but in fact is super duper simple. Or just eat it all yourself. Like I did. Because what good is life without crème brûlée.
Caught in a moment of madness. Oh how I love this crazy fur ball.
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Love and cookies,