Breaking all the rules, this vegan crème brûlée is completely free of dairy and eggs. Yet the recipe, as created by Pure Ella for So Delicious Dairy Free, results in a creamy custard-like dessert with a crusty, sugary topping. Ella uses a mix of coconut milk beverage, full fat coconut milk, and cashew butter for the creamy texture, but adds starch and agar flakes to help the custard set. For sweetening a combination of organic brown sugar and maple syrup adds to the caramelized flavor.
Since some of these ingredients may be new to you, I thought I would break them down and note where to purchase or how to make:
Coconut Milk Beverage: This variety of milk alternative is creamier than options such as rice, yet relatively low in fat to keep the vegan crème brulee from being overly rich. It is also a good option to keep the recipe soy-free. Look for the cartons in the dairy case of most grocery stores.
Arrowroot Starch / Powder: This is a pricier starch than most, but many cooks like its specific properties. If you don’t have any on hand, tapioca starch or non-GMO cornstarch will work in a pinch.
Coconut Milk: This is canned coconut milk. It is sold in the Asian section of most supermarkets, and can be purchased online. I recommend picking the “regular” full-fat variety and passing on the light version for this recipe.
Cashew Butter: This is a rich and creamy nut butter with a beautiful flavor for dessert recipes. It can be hard to find as is (look in natural food stores), but is so easy to make! Simply grind your own cashews until they start to turn into “butter.”
Agar Flakes: This gelatinous seaweed replaces eggs and gelatin in recipes to keep them vegan. In this case, it helps the crème brulee to set-up for a thick custard consistency. If you opt to skip this ingredient, the results will be more like a rich pudding. Agar is found mostly in natural food stores, or online.
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Creme Brulee
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.
For nut-free vegan creme brulee, you can substitute sunflower seed butter for the cashew butter, but note that it will change the flavor profile a touch.
- 2 cups cold So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage, divided
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (can sub another starch, if needed)
- 1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons cashew butter
- ¼ cup organic raw cane light brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons agar flakes (see notes in post above)
- In a small dish whisk the starch into ½ cup milk beverage.
- In a medium pot, whisk the remaining 1-1/2 cups milk beverage, coconut milk, cashew butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and agar. If desired, you can blend the ingredients with an immersion blender to remove all clumps, or whiz them in a blender.
- Turn the heat on to medium and continue whisking while bringing the mixture to nearly boiling.
- Slowly, whisk in the milk-starch mixture.
- Continue cooking while whisking for about 3 minutes being careful that the mixture doesn’t boil but stays very hot. It will thicken quickly.
- Pour the mixture into four crème brûlée dishes or ramekins, they will be quite full, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, remove the crème brulees from the refrigerator and let them stand for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up the dishes slightly.
- Sprinkle each with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar over tops and using a torch, melt the sugar to form a crispy layer on top. If you don't have a torch, position a rack on the top level in your oven. Turn the oven on to broil, and place the ramekins under the broiler for 2 minutes (this method may soften the crème brûlée a touch).