This chocolate cream is my second successful experiment with agar. I have followed the Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches recipe, simply substituting fruit with dark chocolate. Just like the Cream with Peaches, this one had a light, thick yogurt texture. Dark chocolate and coconut combination proved excellent and, thanks to the cow milk content, the coconut taste was tamed down, allowing the chocolate flavours prevail. Because of the chocolate’s presence I cannot say this cream was as low-calorie as the previous one, but it certainly was the lightest chocolate dessert I have ever had and, accidentally one of the most flavoursome too.
As a reminder, agar (agar-agar, “kanten” in Japanese) is a gelling agent very popular in Asia. Contrary to what one might think, this is not a gelatin substitute. It is prepared in a slightly different way and, most of all, gives different textures and consistencies. In Europe it is widely used in food industry and is quite popular among vegetarians, since agar is produced from seaweed (not bones, like gelatin). Apart from gelling properties, agar has considerable health benefits. It helps digestion and is often consumed as a slimming diet booster. A Japanese friend has confirmed what I had already read about: in her country some women dissolve it in tea to help digestion and to suppress appetite (I haven’t checked if it works on my appetite though).
In short, this cream is not only the lightest chocolate dessert I know; it is also probably the healthiest one. With dessicated coconut and shaved chocolate it has made me think of a light Bounty bar in a glass.
TIPS: Look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is said to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package.
Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into serving bowls or glasses because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!
Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge
Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):
250 ml/about 1 cup coconut milk
250 ml/about 1 cup cow milk
4 flat tablespoons sugar (I used two flat tablespoons because I don’t like very sweet desserts)
1/3 flat teaspoon agar agar in powder
60 g/about 2,5 oz good quality dark chocolate, min 70% cocoa
(shaved chocolate, dessicated coconut)
Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the mixture of the two milks, add the chocolate broken into pieces. Bring to boil on low heat and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute. (If the chocolate isn’t completely dissolved, mix everything in a food processor and then bring back to boil).
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!).
Pour the mixture into the bowls or glasses and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Serve very cold sprinkled with coconut and shaved chocolate.