This egg-free and dairy-free custard is very easy to prepare. It has a sliceable but delicate, silky texture and can be used for custard pie or served on its own in individual dessert ramekins. This recipe relies upon the thickening power of starch and agar powder (a tasteless seaweed derivative) for setting the custard as it cools. Agar flakes or agar in stick form are not recommended for this recipe since they do not dissolve as readily as the powdered form. This recipe yields enough custard for 1 nine-inch pie or 7 half-cup servings.
• 3 and ⅓ cups non-dairy milk
• 3 T cornstarch or unmodified potato starch
• ¾ organic sugar (for a sweeter custard increase by ¼ cup)
• 2 T nutritional yeast flakes
• 1 and ½ tsp agar powder (be precise)
• 1 tsp real vanilla extract
• ⅛ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt (a pinch)
• 2 T non-dairy butter or margarine
• fresh grated nutmeg for dusting (about ¼ tsp)
For custard pie:
• 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell of your choice
If preparing custard pie, prebake the pie shell in advance for the time recommended for that particular crust.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Although the custard is cooked in a saucepan, the oven is necessary for finishing and creating a golden “baked custard” surface.
To prepare the custard, pour the milk into a large saucepan and whisk in the starch until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients except for the nutmeg and place over medium heat. Please note that the butter or margarine will melt and combine as the mixture heats. Cook until the mixture comes to a soft boil while stirring constantly with a flexible spatula to prevent scorching. Do not walk away from the mixture as it heats or it can quickly boil over. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
For custard pie: Pour the custard into the pre-baked pie shell and dust with the nutmeg. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
For custard without a pie crust: Pour the custard mixture into a shallow baking dish or individual ramekins and dust with the nutmeg. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes; or place the ramekins on a baking sheet, place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven to cool. Unlike a traditional egg custard which cooks and sets in the oven, eggless custard sets as it cools. Let the custard cool until the bottom of the pie pan, baking dish or individuals ramekins are lukewarm. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill uncovered until completely set, about 1 hour. Once set, loosely cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.