If your only idea of a perfect sweet treat is a thick slice of a rich, frosted cake, then you might not appreciate this post. If, however, like me, you avoid (or at least you try…) doubling the meal’s calorie intake in its last course or/and if you are thrilled at the idea of guiltless, but luscious refreshing desserts, this almond cream is definitely worth your attention.
Some of you might remember my custardy creams/custards set with agar, a gelling agent made from seaweed. Agar, or agar-agar (“kanten” in Japanese) is usually sold in a form of powder or in long sticks, but I always use the powdered form which seems easier to handle. Agar contains water soluble agents, which help digestion and are considered excellent in slimming diets. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, contrary to most agar users, I am not fond of thick standard jellies, so I simply use less agar. Thus, it barely sets liquids, resulting in something similar to a custard or a cream.
Until now most of my agar experiments featured coconut milk mixed with cow milk as the basic ingredient (see below). This one follows exactly the same method, but I use here almond milk instead and am more than satisfied with the results. I will soon test almond milk with other fruits, but at least I know that together with plums it creates a fantastic cooling dessert or snack. I am planning also to test almond cream since I’m sure it can be substituted with a similar albeit slightly richer result.
If you are not fond of almond milk, you might like some of these:
TIPS: I find agar even easier to use than gelatin (though it is not a gelatin replacement since it sets liquids in a slightly different way and cannot be used in every recipe). I use powdered pure agar and it is very easy to dissolve in liquids. There are however different agar powders on the market (some contain sugar for example or other additives), so check the ingredients list and look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is supposed to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon”, custardy consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package, but make sure you don’t use too much agar (it’s easy to overdose!) because you might end up not only with a standard jelly, but with something practically inedible.
Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into the bowls because agar sets at room temperature and, once disturbed, it will not reset properly! On the other hand do not pour the very hot cream because it will “boil” the fruit. Leave the mixture until it is still a bit hot, but not room temperature.
These creams will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can make a whole batch only for yourself!
You can make these creams for example in small jars with lids and take with you to work, on a trip or for a picnic.
Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge
Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):
500 ml/about 2 cups almond milk
4 flat tablespoons sugar (or more if you prefer very sweet desserts or if the plums are very tangy)
1/3 flat teaspoon pore agar agar in powder (if your agar powder contains other ingredients too, check the TIPS above)
about 1/2 kg (about 1 lb) plums cut into bite-sized pieces + some more for decoration
(toasted almond slivers)
Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the almond milk.
Bring to boil and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute.
Prepare four individual bowls or low glasses.
(Do not wait until the cream becomes cold because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!).
Distribute the plum pieces evenly among the bowls.
Pour the slightly hot (not room temperature yet!) almond milk over the fruit pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Serve very cold decorated with fresh plums and, if you want, toasted almond slivers.