I find flan tricky to make as it is, let alone veganized. The traditional process requires the correct balance of egg yolks, milk, and sugar carefully steamed in an aluminum mold we Filipinos call “llanera”. It results in a soft custard cake packed with sweet, fatty creaminess, best indulged with caramelized sugar on top.
Transforming something with concentrated egg yolks to a vegan dish is one of the most challenging cooking experiences on my list. Yet, I’m determined to do it. My good friend, Aileen Suzara at Kitchen Kwento gave me good advice and suggested to incorporate agar-agar to the recipe. Agar-agar is a sea plant gelatin, commonly used in the Philippines as well as by vegans in other parts of the world. (Note: regular gelatin is not vegan).
As most cooking goes, it’s a trial and error process. This is where the fun part begins.
VEGAN LECHE FLAN
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 4-6 tbsp soymilk powder
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 4 tbsp cashew cream (see directions below)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 yellow agar-agar stick, soaked in water (or if it’s agar-agar powder or flakes, use about 3-4 tbsp.)
- 1 tbsp corn starch, dissolved in water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, for caramel topping
- 1/4 cup water, for caramel topping
- Boil the water in a pot and add the brown sugar. Keep it boiling, and constantly mix until sauce is reduced to 1/2 inch. Turn off heat.
- Pour the caramelized sugar to the mold.
- Meanwhile, boil the coconut cream and agar agar in a pot. Mix constantly until agar agar is fully dissolved.
- Add the soymilk powder, organic sugar, and vanilla extract. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the corn starch mixture, constantly stir until the consistency thickens and reaches to boiling point. Turn off the heat.
- Pour the mixture to the mold, on top of the caramel.
- Put the mold inside a fridge for at least 2 hours. The mixture should solidify to a custard. Invert the mold to a serving plate and serve.
For the cashew cream:
- Soak 1/2 cup raw cashews in water for at least 2 hours.
- Rinse and grind them in a food processor with a little bit of salt and coconut milk. Set aside.
My first trial proved to be successful in the sense that it did solidify. It also tasted sweet and creamy just like how I remembered it. However, it might have solidified a bit too much. The texture was a little too thick when it should have been fork tender. The recipe above is already adjusted,I put down 1/2 instead of 3/4 agar agar stick. I also brought down the amount of corn starch and cashew cream. Still, I’m not sure if it will loosen to the right consistency. I guess there’s only one way to find out: on my next attempt.
If you’re giving this a try, or if you already have, please feel free to share any tips or feedback. I’d love to hear what you’ve done with your creation.
And oh by the way…
I’d like to thank Rika at Vegan Miam and Kristy at Keepin It Kind for awarding me with the One Lovely Blog Award. Both Rika and Kristy produce amazing blog content using their skills in cooking, photography, and writing. To get a special nod from them is an honor.
As part of receiving this award, I’m also passing it along and recommending my favorite bloggers. I believe I’m supposed to also share certain facts about me.
So here goes the personal trivia:
- I gradually became vegan after taking a class in Nutrition in college. I learned what’s in our food and I became conscious of what I eat. Over time, I grew naturally repulsed by consuming meat and animal products. Since then, I’ve been making vegan Filipino food.
- Aside from cooking, I also perform on stage and participate in community theatre.
- My dream job is to own and operate an eatery someday.
Now on to the awardees: