I participate in a vegan cook-off with some friends once a month and I was happy with how my recipe came together for this month’s Pie-Off, so I thought I’d share!
I made key lime pie-lets, consisting of individual firm custards each served on their own graham cracker. There are three components:
- Graham crackers, adapted from Nancy Silverton by way of Smitten Kitchen
- A simple but delicious raspberry sauce, from Lizzy T
- A coconut-milk agar “custard,” by way of my own experimentation :)
The graham cracker adaptations were straightforward:
- Earth Balance replaced butter,
- salt was omitted, since Earth Balance is quite salty,
- coconut milk replaced cow’s milk,
- and golden syrup replaced honey.
I took the option to sub in some whole wheat flour and I thought it worked quite well. The dough was quite easy to work, despite Deb’s warnings, particularly as it warmed up. I might skip the chilling step if I made it again. Perhaps I improved the recipe?
The raspberry sauce was made as-is, except that I strained the hot raspberry-sugar mixture through a wire mesh sieve before blending in the cornstarch, to remove most of the seeds. Crushing the raspberries against the sieve with the back of a spoon helps liberate the most raspberry goodness.
The custard was my own invention! Instead of using acid to thicken sweetened condensed milk, like in a traditional key lime pie, the thickener in this recipe is agar. Agar is derived from seaweed, colorless, flavorless, and sets to a firm gel.
At my local Asian-food supermarket, I noticed they stocked both pure agar-agar (Telephone brand), and an agar-agar/sugar mix (Golden Coin brand). The Golden Coin brand is about 10% agar-agar by weight, and is easier to work with when making small quantities of the custard.
Arrowroot is decidedly non-traditional in agar desserts; I added some to see it would help give the custards a creamier texture. I think it helped; see what you think!
I made the custard in individual ramekins. You could also make a large batch by setting the agar in a pan and using a cookie cutter to cut out individual custards.
For each 50 ml custard, you’ll want:
- EITHER 6 g Golden Coin agar-agar mix (10% agar/sugar),
OR (600 mg Telephone-brand agar-agar and 5.4 g table sugar)
- an additional 4 g sugar
- 1 g arrowroot powder
- 25 ml coconut milk
- 15 ml water
- 10 ml lime juice
- a pinch of lime zest
You can make several at once by scaling up each ingredient, as long as you have enough ramekins. The custard will solidify at room temperature if you leave it for more than a few minutes. (If this happens, you can just reheat it, but heated lime juice may lose some of its pep.)
Combine all ingredients except the lime juice and zest in a microwave-safe measuring cup, and microwave until just boiling and the agar is completely dissolved. Watch it carefully; it will want to boil over!
Stir the lime juice and zest into the hot agar and quickly pour 50 ml into each 2” ramekin. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until solid.
Unmold the agar by carefully running a paring knife around the inner circumference of the ramekin, and then firmly tapping the open end of the ramekin against your palm.
If you like, use a fluted cookie cutter to give each custard a cute edge.
You can store the custards in a closed container in the fridge for a few days; separate them with layers of wax paper.
To serve, just pop a custard onto a graham cracker, and top with the raspberry sauce!