Best Ever Vegan Vanilla Custard

May 22, 2020

There have been a few recipes I’ve struggled with as a vegan chef, and vanilla custard has definitely been one of them.

Either the texture came out too gelatinous (it’s supposed to be thick and creamy, not jiggly!) or too runny, or the color was off. I see no point in making something if it doesn’t both taste and look good, so the experimentation continued.

After several trials, I finally managed to get the texture right but then there was… the color. I wanted a vibrant, yellow color or at least the resemblance of a yellow color.

But either they came out pale and white and didn’t add any brightness to the aesthetics, or even worse…orange or a weird, unappetizing brown color. The latter was because many recipes call for adding turmeric to the custard, but this is not a foolproof idea because many turmeric bottles may be old and then don’t give off the intended color. If you add too much, the result will be less than desirable also.

And no, I didn’t want to result to any food coloring in a package, because I’m really more of a fan of natural ingredients (not “natural color” additives) using whole foods and spices.

So what did I finally think of to add that adds the most gorgeous color, and a hint of the most delicious flavor too?

Saffron!

Yes, I know saffron is expensive, but you really don’t need to add a lot to color your custard. Half a teaspoon is enough, just a few threads, and assuming you don’t make vanilla custard every day (no judgment, though) – it shouldn’t break the bank.

I love using saffron in baked goods because, in Scandinavia, where I’m from, we add it to these delicious buns—lussekatter—during the pre-Christmas holiday season. We love adding spices that are typically used in savory dishes into our sweet pastries (hello cardamom buns).

In the same fashion, this vanilla custard becomes something truly special – sweet with a slight savory note.

Whether you’re making cakes, filled buns, or other desserts that call for vanilla custard or you simply want to enjoy it just as it is this recipe is sure to please. You could serve it like a saffron pudding, garnished with berries, or even brulee it if you want.

Who wouldn’t get a smile on their face when looking at this gorgeous, bright yellow color?

And the best part is that it’s really quick and simple too. It’s what I like to call sunshine food 🙂

BEST EVER VEGAN VANILLA CUSTARD

2 cups (500ml) non-dairy milk (I used soy)
¼ cup (70 ml) cornstarch
½ -1 tsp saffron strands
½ tsp fresh turmeric powder (optional)
¼ cup (70ml) sugar

Whisk the non-dairy milk with cornstarch and turmeric (if using) in a medium, heavy bottomed pan. Add in the saffron strands, bring to a gentle simmer, lower the heat and keep stirring the mixture will start to thicken, it should take about 10 minutes or so.

You can check it by sticking a wooden spoon in the sauce, and it if coats the back of the spoon, it’s good. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar until it’s dissolved.

Pour the custard into a glass or other non-reactive bowl and place in the fridge to thicken for a couple of hours. Once it has cooled you can cover the surface with plastic to prevent a skin forming on top.

Either serve as is with fruits, and nuts or use in your recipe as directed.

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Best Ever Vegan Vanilla Custard

  • Author: Sunny Gandara

Ingredients

Scale

2 cups (500ml) non-dairy milk (I used soy)
¼ cup (70 ml) cornstarch
½1 tsp saffron strands
½ tsp fresh turmeric powder (optional)
¼ cup (70ml) sugar

Instructions

Whisk the non-dairy milk with cornstarch and turmeric (if using) in a medium, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the saffron strands, bring to a gentle simmer, lower the heat and keep stirring the mixture will start to thicken, it should take about 10 minutes or so.

You can check it by sticking a wooden spoon in the sauce, and it if coats the back of the spoon, it’s good. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar until it’s dissolved.

Pour the custard into a glass or other non-reactive bowl and place in the fridge to thicken for a couple of hours. Once it has cooled you can cover the surface with plastic to prevent a skin forming on top.

Either serve as is with fruits, and nuts or use in your recipe as directed.

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