Eggs and cream are the staple food of (classic) desserts. Flans, crème brûlée, crema Catalana, mousse, are all made with these basic ingredients; sometimes directly but often using a custard base.

Though, sometimes dietary requirements (or the need of a challenge) requires us to look for alternatives. The eggs and cream do however play an important role in the final dish. Egg yolks are used to chicken a base and add a certain richness. Cream can be used to introduce lightness, through whipping, or acts as the main ingredient waiting to be flavored. Is it possible to adequately substitute these important ingredients? Well, sometimes, yes!

Recently, I was looking for a full vegan chocolate dessert that approached the intensity of one based on cream and eggs. My previous experiments failed and ended up in watery dull desserts. With these new recipe I finally found a good combination of ingredients that can compete with the real non-vegan thing!

This recipe does contain hydrocolloids in the form of Kappa and Iota Carrageenan. Carrageenan is extracted from some species of red algae (seaweed) of the Rodophyceae class and is fully vegan. The type of carrageenan is important as each type has a different function. In this recipe Kappa is used as a gel and Iota to give a custard-like mouthfeel. It is not really possible to use other hydrocolloids without changing the recipe. It is possible to substitute the carrageenan to some extent with agar but I haven’t tested this. Also, the use of agar will change the final structure of the crème.

Ingredients

  • Almond milk, 400 grams
  • Granulated sugar, 20 grams
  • Dutch cocoa powder, 8 grams
  • Salt, 0.4 grams
  • Xantham gum (optional), 0.25 grams
  • Iota Carrageenan, 0.85 grams
  • Kappa Carrageenan, 0.6 grams
  • Dark chocolate, chopped, 160-220 grams
  • Ramkins or other (ring) mold

Note: The amount of chocolate controls the richness and the final texture of the dish. Use 220 grams of dark chocolate for a very rich and firm texture which can be easily cut. Use less for a more flan-like texture.

Recipe

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, salt, xantham gum and both carrageenans. Place chocolate in a separate bowl (large enough to contain the final mixture). Add dry ingredients to almond milk and mix thoroughly with a stick blender. Try to minimize the amount of bubbles.

Pour the mixture in to a small sauce pan and turn on the heat. The mixture must reach at least 79°C for the hydrocolloids to hydrate.

Turn of the heat and pour the liquid on top of the chocolate. Let stand for a few moments to melt the chocolate. Use a stick blender to fully incorporate the chocolate in to the liquid. You need to end up with a smooth mixture.

Quickly pour the mixture in to your ramkins or other mold. The mixture gels below 45°C. If the mixture gels before you were able to pour it in to the ramkins you can slowly reheat the mixture on the stove (carrageenan is thermo-reversible). I poured my mixture in to a ring mold placed on a silicon mat and used a circular cutter to get individual portions. Before serving dust the chocolate crème with some cocoa powder.

The final chocolate crème after removing the ring mold. After removing the mold I cut out individual portions using a round cutter. I ended up with some bubbles at the top of the creme due to the mixing.

Pairing ideas

The chocolate crème can be paired with caramelized pear and nougatine. For the nougatine used in this picture, caramelize 50 grams of granulated sugar with a small teaspoon of glucose syrup. When the caramel is ready, mix it with 50 grams of shaved almonds.