The assignment I gave myself was to create a flan-like dessert as the final course of a Latin-themed menu. Simple enough, you say. But suppose the three principle ingredients in a traditional flan, eggs, milk and sugar, were off limits, as they are in our weekly vegetarian dinners which are vegan and eschew refined sugars. After the jump you’ll see the recipe I came up with, a dessert in which coconut predominates, and chocolate is secondary. Among our diners, opinions varied. Many loved it, others were not as enthusiastic. In this context, chocolate is a headache to deal with because most chocolate is sweetened with lots of white sugar. This recipe calls for barley malt-sweetened chocolate chips, which are acceptable, but surely not the most delicious chocolate ever. I’m not much of a chocolate person, so if you have a creative solution to this chocolate problem, please share it with our readers. If this sort of dessert appeals to you, try my uncomplicated recipe and let us know what you think.
2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
1/4 cup maple syrup (plus 2 tablespoons for the garnish)
1 3/4 bars agar agar or 6 tablespoons agar flakes
3/4 cup malt-sweetened chocolate chips (plus 2 tablespoons for the garnish)
3 cups coconut milk
7 ounces soft or silken tofu (blended until creamy in a food processor or blender)
1. Combine the apple juice, maple syrup and soy or rice milk in a medium sauce pan, add the agar flakes or the bar agar which you’ve torn into smaller pieces. Let the agar soak for a few minutes.
2. Turn on the heat, stirring almost constantly, heat this mixture until the agar is completely dissolved, 4 or 5 minutes.
3. When the agar is dissolved, add the chocolate chips, coconut milk and tofu, in that order. Whisk until the chips are completely dissolved and everything is well blended. Taste to make sure you are happy with the sweetness level.
4. When everything is completely blended, spoon this mixture into a 9-inch square pan or into individual ramekins or small bowels. Cool and allow to become firm before serving (about an hour).
5. Garnish by topping with a little film of maple syrup, a dollop of coconut-tofu cream, and a sprinkle of chopped chocolate chips (six one-cup servings).
To make the Coconut-Tofu Cream: combine 1 cup coconut cream (the white, thick part of the coconut milk), 4 ounces soft or silken tofu and 2 teaspoons maple syrup in a blender or food processor. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Taste, add a little more maple syrup if you like. Chill at least one hour before serving.