How to Make Vegan Custard

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If you’re looking for a simple, fool-proof and quick vegan custard recipe, you’ve come to the right place. This dairy-free custard is super creamy, smooth and light.

There are endless options when it comes to enjoying custard. You can simply have it on its own with some fruit, pour it over a slice of cake, pie, crisp or crumble, pancakes, fill doughnuts with it, eclairs or make it into desserts like my vanilla & custard cream cake or a simple trifle.

I’m a sucker for creamy desserts, and I’ve been meaning to share this simple vegan custard with you for quite some time.

What is a vegan custard made of?

Most custard that is made from scratch would include egg yolks, full-fat milk, and cream. The beauty of not using eggs in your custard is that you can’t overcook it. This would result in scrambled eggs or the mix splitting. Tempering it can be a stressful process! 

When you don’t use animal products, a lot of these issues disappear. You can’t overmix it, and there’s no chance of it splitting either. 

What you’ll find in this custard are everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Plant milk, coconut cream (or full-fat coconut milk), cornstarch, raw sugar, vanilla extract and turmeric powder (for colour, you won’t taste it). That’s it! 

Thin custard being poured over vanilla cake and strawberries in a jar.

What’s the difference between crème anglaise and crème pâtissiere?

I know I’m throwing around a couple of French words here but let me break it down for you in simple terms. 

Crème anglaise (French for “English cream”) is a thin pouring sauce that’s used mainly as an addition to a dessert—like you’d use ice cream or cream. See the image above to get an idea of consistency. This can be drizzled over a slice of cake, pudding, pie, crisps, crumbles, tarts or just over fruit or compote. 

Crème pâtissiere is a thick pastry cream that can be used as a filling for pastries like doughnuts, eclairs, cannelloni, or poured into tart shells, made into slices, or used in trifles. 

The main difference between these two custards is how much cornstarch is used. I know that traditionally it’s the egg yolks and milk that contribute to the thickness, but the purpose of this being a vegan recipe, I’ll focus on how this kind is made.

Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in a vegan custard recipe to make it nice and creamy. Use less or more, depending on the outcome you’d like. 

Thick Vegan Custard in pot with whisk.

For example, in my vanilla & custard cream cake, I had to use 1 cup of cornstarch for the cake to set and not fall apart as soon as it’s removed from the cake tin and cut. Using aquafaba to lighten it also played a role in how much cornstarch I used as it needed to have even more structure to endure adding in an ingredient that would lighten the weight of the custard. 

Note: Keep in mind with this cake recipe that the custard is doubled, therefore required more cornstarch. 

Here’s a photo of the final result. 

Using cornstarch in your vegan vanilla custard recipe

As I mentioned earlier, this will depend on how thick or thin you want your custard. To give you a guide, here is how I determine how much cornstarch to use. 

Using the recipe below, you can adjust the cornstarch used as follows:

  • 2-3 tbsp = thinner pouring sauce (consistency of a crème anglaise) 
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup = thicker custard (consistency of crème pâtissiere)

As well as cornstarch, the other factor that plays a role in how thick your custard is is how long you cook it for. The longer it cooks, the thicker it will be. However, you can’t expect it to be too much thicker than the above consistencies based on how much cornstarch you use. 

Note: the custard will continue to thicken as it cools. 

Vegan Vanilla Custard in a cup with chocolate and coconut on top.

Tips for making this eggless custard

Even though this recipe is super easy to make (and did I mention cheap?!), there are still a couple of things that you’ll want to keep an eye out for when making it. 

  • When you’ve finished cooking your custard, and it’s looking a little lumpy, just strain it through a sieve. Problem solved!
  • If you want to avoid a thin skin/film forming on top of your custard as it cools, you can either place some cling wrap (please, if you have access to it, use a biodegradable one) right on top of the custard or just give it a quick whisk with your hand-held electric whisk. I always use the latter option, and it works perfectly fine.
  • If you want to reheat it and it’s a little too thick, add a splash of plant milk and stir it over low heat until warmed up. 
  • Want a chocolate custard? Just add 1-2 tbsp of cacao/cocoa powder or some vegan dark chocolate (up to ¼ cup) if you have a really sweet tooth. 
  • The custard can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Pictured: Vegan Trifle Cups with Berries

Other vegan dessert and basic recipes you’ll love:

  1. Healthy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  2. Easy Vegan Tiramisu (Gluten-Free)
  3. Vegan Vanilla Cake with Coconut Cream and Berries
  4. Vegan Kremšnita (Vanilla & Custard Cream Cake)
  5. How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream

If you try this recipe, let me know! Would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest

Ingredients

  • 500ml plant milk – I normally use organic soy
  • 2 tbsp – ⅓ cup cornstarch*
  • ½ cup raw granulated sugar (organic for vegan if in the US)
  • ½ cup coconut cream (or full-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla seeds scraped from half a vanilla pod
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (for colour, you won’t taste it)

Instructions

      1. Add 250ml (8.45oz) of the milk to a medium-sized saucepan and place on medium-high heat until the milk warms up.
      2. In the meantime, add the rest of the milk and the custard ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
      3. Once the milk has come to a gentle simmer, pour in the custard mix and whisk for around 4-5 minutes until it starts to thicken or starts to stick to the bottom of the saucepan. You will feel it. 
      4. Whichever one occurs first, then reduce the heat to low and cook stirring for an additional 2 minutes. (If you the custard is still too thin, keep cooking it. If you’ve reached your desired consistency, you can take it off the heat.)
      5. Remove saucepan from the heat and let it cool completely. Once cooled, if it’s a little lumpy when you stir it, give it a quick whiz with the electric whisk.
      6. Or you can serve it hot. Serving suggestions are mentioned further up in the post.
      7. Store in the fridge once cooled for up to 3 days.

Notes

* Please read notes above about how much cornstarch to add.

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