Indulge in the creamy, velvety goodness of this perfect vegan crème brûlée. This luscious dessert features a rich vanilla custard base, perfectly complemented by a layer of irresistibly crunchy caramelized sugar on top.
You won't believe how simple it is to whip up, with just 7 easy-to-find ingredients and absolutely no baking required. Best of all, this guilt-free treat is completely free from eggs and dairy, yet packed with all the creamy, indulgent flavor you crave. This dessert also happens to be completely gluten-free. Savor every spoonful of this delicious, plant-based dessert!
Oh, fancy yourself a custard fanatic, do you? Well, have I got a treat for you - a vegan creme brulee that's so versatile, you can chuck in whatever fancy flavors you want, by adding different extracts, your favorite dessert liquors, citrus zest or dried rose petals.
This luxurious dessert features a creamy, vanilla custard that's encased in a perfectly caramelized sugar shell - so fancy, yet so effortless to make. Your guests will think you are super experienced, but this is such an easy vegan dessert (just a wee bit more effort that my Vietnamese flan) that you could legit have your ten-year-old throw this bad baby together, maybe with a little help during the torching part. So they don’t burn your house down or whatever.
Use full-fat canned coconut milk, not “light” or “lite” or however they want to spell that these days. It's important for creme brûlée to be rich and creamy, and the (healthy) fat from the coconut is important for that! Don't use "coconut cream" which is better off saved for making desserts like Vietnamese Kem Chuoi!
Saffron provides a mild eggy color and a sublime subtle flavor. If you don’t have saffron, or don’t want to get it (it’s pricy stuff!), you can totally use a tiny pinch of turmeric instead. Just don’t go overboard. Vegan creme brûlée should not be Bart-Simpson-grade yellow.
If you have a choice, use grade B maple syrup which has a better flavor and has more minerals. Also, grade B is now sometimes referred to as "Grade A Dark Robust", just because the maple men who run the global maple cabal are trying to be as tricky as they can be!
Always use natural real vanilla. That artificial stuff is straight trash. If you want to make a flavored creme brûlée, you might want to switch the vanilla out for lemon extract, rosewater, orange blossom extract, or rum extract. It’s a very easy way to customize this dessert.
Definitely use the POWDER, not agar agar flakes which can have a tougher time dissolving fully. Agar is a polysaccharide that comes from a sea vegetable, and it gives the custard a little bit of a gelatinous quality. In moderation like it is here, that’s a great thing. But agar is terrible, nasty, unpleasant stuff when you put too much in a recipe.
This is for creating the crisp torched caramel topping. I like to use evaporated cane juice, but any fine light-colored sugar will do. Sometimes I make creme brûlée without any refined sugar, but using either palm sugar (which is grat for filling klepon with) coconut sugar (or palm sugar which i use in biji salak and bubur sum sum) for the topping. Because the crystals are larger and the sugar is darker, I like to mix in a couple drops of water to the sugar in the topping when I use coconut sugar to help dissolve the large crystals. It torches better that way.
See the recipe card for the complete ingredient list and exact quantities.
- Lemon Elderflower creme brûlée (you are gonna LOVE this if you are a fan of my lemon pound cake with elderflower cream cheese frosting) -Instead of the vanilla, use lemon extract, one lemon worth of lemon zest, and also add a teaspoon and a half of liqueur. It’s freaking lovely this way!
- No torch? you can still make this BOMB vegan Vietnamese flan, which is a little simpler to make and requires no pyrotechnics.
- DONUTS! - That’s freaking right! I won awards for my vanilla bourbon creme brûlée donuts and you probably would love to eat them in a bathtub with your dad! Just fill a yeasted donut with the custard while it’s still warm before it sets by using a pastry bag. Then glaze the donuts, sprinkle the tops with sugar, and torch them.
Don't be scared. If this is your first time making this seemingly difficult dessert, I am going to hold your hand and walk you through it, and then you are gonna be like "Adam, this is actually stupid easy. Thanks for nothing."
Over a high flame, heat up the coconut milk, saffron, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until it comes to a boil.
Reduce the flame to medium and stir the contents of the pot with a whisk.
In a separate bowl using the tines of a fork, combine the water, arrowroot (or cornstarch), and agar agar powder to make a thin slurry.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the bowl into the cooking coconut milk, and continue to cook, whisking regularly for about two more minutes or until thickened and bubbling.
Evenly divide the custard into the four ramekins. And chill for 2 hours or more.
Working one at a time, use 3-4 teaspoons of sugar to top a custard. You can tilt the custard around in your hand and shake it a little to evenly coat the entire surface with a thin layer of sugar crystals.
Torch the crystals using a butane torch. Keep the flame of the torch moving around the surface of the custard so that the sugar melts and browns evenly instead of burning in spots.
Sugar and torch each remaining custard one at a time and serve immediately.
The one somewhat wacky thing you will need to make this is a butane torch. Don't worry is can also come in handy for creating instant char on homemade pita or grilled Mexican street corn. You can use a cheap kitchen blow torch, or even a torch with large replaceable gas canisters, which is what I do because there was a time when I was torching over 1,000 vanilla bourbon creme brulee donuts EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
If you have a good broiler in your oven, sometimes you can get away with using that if the custards are positioned close enough to the heat source, but I have found it’s really hard to get reliable good results this way, so proceed at your own peril if you wanna try it that way.
The other thing you will want for this is some wide shallow ramekins, or pretty-looking shallow dishes the custards can set up in. These are the ones I use.
Yes! This recipe contains no gluten and makes an impressive, fast-to-throw-together dessert when you have a guest who hates gluten!
Nope! Creme brûlée is normally made with dairy and eggs by people who don’t love animals that much. But since you found this recipe, you are all good to go now!
Creme brulee" is French for "burnt cream," which refers to the dessert's caramelized top.
But don't be fooled, just because it has a sophisticated-sounding French name doesn't necessarily mean the dessert originated there. Nope, there are a bunch of European countries that are all like "Hey, that's our dessert, we invented it!" So, the mystery of where this fancy custard treat comes from is still up for debate.
These custards can last a few days in the fridge. Just wrap the tops in plastic so they don’t become refrigerator flavored. Wait until you are ready to serve them to torch the tops. If youand torch them in advance and THEN refrigerate, the tops will attract condensation and get soggy and syrupy in the fridge.
Other vegan desserts you need in your life:
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Vegan crème brûlée
- In a saucepan over a high flame, heat the coconut milk, saffron, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until it comes to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium and stir the contents of the pot with a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine the water, arrowroot (or cornstarch) and agar agar powder to make a thin slurry. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the bowl into the cooking coconut milk, and continue to cook, whisking regularly for about two more minutes or until thickened and bubbling. Evenly divide the custard into the four ramekins. And chill for 2 hours or more before serving.
- Working one at a time, use 3-4 teaspoons of sugar to top a custard. You can tilt the custard around in your hand and shake it a little to evenly coat the entire surface with a thin layer of sugar crystals.
- Torch the crystals using a butane torch. Keep the flame of the torch moving around the surface of the custard so that the sugar melts and browns evenly instead of burning in spots.
- Sugar and torch each remaining custard one at a time and serve immediately.