Sunday, 9 September 2012

Almond custard with roasted strawberries and almond toffee

So I am pretty proud of this one. Firstly it passed the Kev test which was pretty amazing as he doesn't like cooked fruit or sweets in general very much. His initial reaction when I put it down was "you've been cooking my fruit again haven't you?" but he quickly changed to "this is good.... this is really good" Success! But what I really like is that this is the kind of dessert that you don't get as a vegan very often. Most people seem to make custards out of milk and eggs (I guess that is the traditional way) and maybe it has just been a while since I have had something like that but this seems better to me. It is a light, and softly almond flavored custard that you could use in place of cream along side any number of sweet treats.
First things first, to make this you must, must, must make your own almond milk or it will not taste anywhere near as lovely. Homemade almond milk is pretty special. I would include a recipe but there are so many out there, my favorite and the version I use can be found in cute video form here. I put off trying to make my own nut milks for a long time and then when I finally did I kicked myself as it is super quick and easy and the final product is much nicer than anything you can buy in the supermarket not to mention cheaper. 
So once you have taken a moment and calmed down and decided to try making your almond milk, I can tell you that this really is a super easy and quick dessert to make. There is a wait of an hour but you dont have to do anything in that time so you can get on with whatever else you need to do.
So now you are all prepared lets have a look. Here we go!

Ingredients (serves 2)

Almond milk
1 cup almonds (soaked over night)

Almond Custard
1 cup almond milk
2 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla

1 punnet strawberries

Almond Toffee
1/2 cup whole almonds
3 tbsp maple syrup

You will need to make your own almond milk, I recommend  this recipe, it involves soaking the almonds over night but other than that you can be done in about 5mins. The recipe makes 1lt so you will have leftovers, try it on your cereal, porridge or in a smoothie. Delicious! If you forget to soak your almonds, you can still go ahead with the recipe, the soaking is mainly to ease digestion and soften the nuts slightly. You will have a cup of almond "pulp" left after making your almond milk. Please don't throw it away, put it in a container in the freezer and you can use it in place of almond meal in baking.

Begin by making the almond custard. Place the corn flour, maple syrup and vanilla in a small saucepan and mix until it forms a smooth paste. Add a small amount of almond milk and place over a medium heat. Gradually add the rest of the 1 cup of almond milk and keep stirring. Gently bring the mixture to the boil and reduce heat, keep stirring until it begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and pour into small serving bowls or glasses and place in the fridge for about an hour. 
Now you have some time to do anything else that you need to do, get on with your main meal, go for a walk, read a book.... 
 About 15mins before you want to eat preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Rinse the strawberries and cut into whatever size pieces you would like. Wrap them in a piece of foil and place in the oven for 5-10mins. Meanwhile, place your 1/2 cup of whole almonds into a food processor (or you can cut them by hand) and pulse until roughly chopped. Put the now chopped almonds in a small saucepan over a low-moderate heat with 3 tbsp of maple syrup. Stir mixture constantly until the mixture begins to stick together and look like toffee. 
Take the strawberries out of the oven and carefully unwrap them. Now this is very important, you must stop and smell the strawberries as you unwrap them, because it is one of the best smells in the world.
Take your chilled custards out of the fridge and place the warm roasted strawberries on top followed by a spoonful of the almond toffee. Find a lovely person to share with and somewhere sunny to sit and enjoy.

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