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Murielle Banackissa

Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée

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8 hours 30 mins Prep: 15 mins Cook: 15 mins Resting Time: 8 hours
Serves 5

Made with a base of silken tofu, this eggless and dairy-free crème brûlée is rich, silky, and incredibly aromatic.

Equipment

  • Blowtorch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 5 opened green cardamom pods
  • 1 (300g) pack of silken tofu , drained
  • 1 ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of ground turmeric
  • 5 tbsp superfine (caster) sugar

Prepare the crème brûlée mixture

  1. Step 1

    To a medium saucepan, add the plant-based milk and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil on high.

  2. Step 2

    Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Strain the milk into a bowl. Discard the cardamom pods and seeds. Return the hot milk to the saucepan.

  4. Step 4

    In a mini food processor or a high speed blender, blend together the silken tofu, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, sugar and salt until the mixture is silky. It's normal that the sugar won't be fully dissolved at this stage.

  5. Step 5

    Transfer the tofu mixture to the saucepan with the warm milk along with the coconut oil.

  6. Step 6

    Set the saucepan on the stovetop and heat on medium-high heat, whisking regularly until the mixture starts bubbling up, about 7 minutes.

  7. Step 7

    Once the bubbles start, whisk constantly and cook until the mixture has thickened and you can no longer taste the cornstarch.

  8. Step 8

    Stir in the vanilla bean paste and the turmeric.

  9. Step 9

    Divide the mixture between 5 ramekins and let cool for 30 minutes.

  10. Step 10

    Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to set for 8 hours or overnight.

Caramelize the sugar

  1. Step 1

    Spoon 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar on top of one of your set crème brûlées. Move the ramekin in circular motions to evenly distribute the sugar.

  2. Step 2

    Using a blowtorch, caramelize the sugar until browned.

  3. Step 3

    Repeat the process for any of your desserts that will be served immediately. Keep any crème brûlées that won't be eaten immediately intact (without sugar) and covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Caramelize the sugar right before consumption.

Common Questions & Swaps

  • Use any unsweetened plant-based milk from a carton such as soy milk, oat milk, cashew milk, etc. Do not use canned coconut milk.
  • Can I replace the cornstarch with another thickener? Yes, you can use equal quantities of arrowroot powder.
  • Can I use another kind of sugar instead of organic cane sugar? Any other white sugar would work well here so granulated sugar or superfine sugar are great alternatives. 
  • Feel free to use extra virgin or refined coconut oil. Either one will work well in this recipe.
  • Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean paste? Yes, use 1 tablespoon of it in place of the paste.
  • Can I replace superfine sugar with another kind of sugar? Superfine sugar is superfine, so it melts quicker than other more coarser sugars. If you only have granulated sugar on hand, you can still go ahead and use it. 
  • I cannot recommend any other methods to caramelize the sugar other than using the blowtorch! Because of the vegan nature of this dessert, the crème brûlée mixture is not as stable and putting it in the oven on broil to caramelize the sugar will result in significanlty softening the creamy mixture, which you do not want, trust me. 
Overhead of 2 Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée broken open
Sugar being caramelized on Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Closeup of Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Two Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée ready to be eaten
Two Eaten Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée
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Happy December!

It is kind of hard to believe that I was able to test, write out, shoot, edit, and publish 3 full recipes on my blog in the past 3 weeks. I am quite proud of myself because the last few months I have felt so much resistance when it comes to creation!

Thankfully, I feel like I am entering a new era lately. I feel more inspired and excited to get my culinary creative juices flowing.

As you might know if you have read some of my previous blogposts, I love being inspired by travels: going to new places in the world, trying out new flavors, seeing how people live, how the nature differs from the one at home, and soaking up a new culture.

Since I am a foodie, you can imagine that whenever I travel, I also make it a point to make food a big part of my adventures. A very big part of them.

This year, I had the chance to move around quite a bit. The first trip that kicked off my travels was Lisbon, Portugal. I travelled with a friend (who is also a vegan foodie!) and she took me to her favorite vegan spots and I fell in love with the food! Honeslty, the vegan scene in Lisbon is really top notch! We ate soooo well.

Vegan dish at Kong in Lisbon, Portugal
Small coastal town in Portugal
Sunset in Lisbon Portugal
Vegan Tiramisu Donut at Scoop n Dough in Lisbon Portugal
Entry door in Lisbon Portugal with Cacti
Vegan crème brûlée from vegan restaurant AO26 in Lisbon Portugal

I knew that I would have to try and replicate at least one of the dishes we tried once we got back home. The dish I chose is AO 26’s Cardamom Crème Brûlée.

It was the first vegan crème brûlée I had in the 6+ years that I have been a vegan and I was blown away. It was rich, silky, lightly sweetened, subtle in flavor, and so addictive. As soon as I got back home, I put it in my “Future Recipes” Notion template. It took me 8 months to finally make it happen, but here it is: Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée, made at home.

Just like AO 26’s version, this crème brûlée is fully vegan. It has no eggs and no dairy. Instead it is made with a mixture of plant-based milk, silken tofu (please don’t let this scare you, you do no taste it at all!), sugar, a touch of cornstarch, coconut oil, nooch, and 2 key aromatics: vanilla bean paste and green cardamom pods.

This dessert is:

Luxurious in flavor and texture,

relatively easy to make, as long as you follow the steps (and have a blowtorch!),

and crowd pleaser. I made a few friends and family members try it and they were are impressed by the flavor complexity and silky mouthfeel.

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Closeup of Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Very closeup of Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée with caramelized sugar
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When it comes to the ingredients used in this recipe, below are the ones I used.

For any modifications, refer to the Swaps & Comments section.

Unsweetened plant-based milk: Regardless of the milk you choose, it will act as the base for the crème brûlée and help give it its iconic creamy texture.

Green cardamom pods: Broken open, these are boiled together with the plant-based to give it a subtle aroma.

Silken tofu: I love using silken tofu in creamy desserts as it sets naturally, even after it has been broken up or blended. Plus, here, it gives the crème brûlée a little protein boost.

Nutritional yeast: Usually crème brûlée is made with eggs which have a savory flavor. Since this recipe is vegan, eggs are omitted. I instead used a little bit of nutritionally yeast to replicate that savory flavor.

Cornstarch: This helps thicken the crème brûlée.

Organic cane sugar: I used this sugar to sweeten the crème brûlée mixture.

Sea salt: I always use a touch of salt to counter-balance the sweetness of my desserts.

Coconut oil: Melted into the crème brûlée mixture, coconut oil gives this dessert a wonderful richness.

Vanilla bean paste: I used it in this recipe instead of vanilla extract to give this dessert a more pronounced vanilla flavor.

Ground turmeric: It’s used in this recipe to give the crème brûlées a little yellow tint.

Superfine (caster) sugar: As its name indicates, it is superfine, which makes it very easy to caramelize, perfect for the crème brûlées’ iconic crispy topping.

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Two Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlée ramekins
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It’s always so nice when you create a recipe that in inspired by a dish you’ve tried elsewhere and it turns out! It doesn’t always happen and that can lead to a few frustrating moments in the kitchen, but ultimately, I think that that is what creation is all about.

Trial and error, testing, adjusting, retesting. I have also found that when a recipe doesn’t work out from the very first time, the trial and error process actually forces me to work on my palate as well as my culinary and problem solving skills, which in turn makes me a more skilled recipe developer.

On that note, the recipe now is good to go so you won’t have to go through trial and error in your kitchen! But I do hope that you give these Vegan Vanilla-Cardamom Crème Brûlées a try. Every time I have had one, I felt like I was having a luxurious restaurant dessert, right in the comfort of my home.

If you make these crème brûlées, I’d appreciate it if you left a review above in the recipe box and shared about it on social media. Don’t forget to tag me (@muriellebanackissa).

Happy cooking ✦

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