Cream, in all of its thick, decadent, buttery glory. It rises to the top of our milk jugs, this time of year a good 2″ layer of pale yellow richness (the color from the beta carotene, from the grass the cows munch to make the milk).
I miss cream. Heavy, whipped, frozen, or liquored.
There is no all-encompassing substitute for dairy cream — believe me, I’ve searched high and low to find it. The closest I’ve come is my beloved coconut cream — though it’s not entirely the same, especially in flavor. Rich, yes — but it lacks the depth of dairy cream. The buttery, almost salty, fragrant nose.
It just can’t be replaced.
But for some applications, you can come darned close. And one dessert I recently discovered held its own in the dairy-free department: pots de creme (pronounced po-day-crehm), or as we like to say in the low-brow, non-French-speaking world, baked custards.
Coconut milk (and/or cream) combines with egg yolks to create a thick, flan-like texture. Flavored with lemon and honey, the coconut almost disappears — especially when paired with tart-sweet, minted strawberries. A decadent, dairy-free summer dessert, with no refined sweeteners.
It’s enough to keep a dairy-lovin’, dairy-free girl placated for just a few more months, until my world includes cow’s milk again.
Recipe: Lemon Pots de Creme (dairy-free, GAPS-ok*)
: makes 4-6 custards, depending on size of cups
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk (or 1 cup full-fat coconut milk and 1 cup unsweetened coconut cream)
- 1/3 cup mild honey
- heavy pinch salt
- zest of 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325º, and have ready 4-6 ramekins, oven-proof mugs, or jars, along with a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching (and deep enough to hold water halfway up the sides of the cups). Put on a pot of water to heat almost to boiling for the water bath.
- In a medium saucepan, warm the coconut milk (and cream, if using), honey, and salt until the honey dissolves.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. While whisking the yolks vigorously, ladle in some of the warm milk to temper. Return the milk and yolks to the saucepan, whisking thoroughly.
- Strain the coconut milk & egg mixture into a bowl or 4-cup measuring cup with a pour spout (straining is optional, but helps the final texture). Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and stir well.
- Divide the custard evenly among the cups in the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven, and pour hot (not boiling) water into the pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups.
- Bake 40-50 minutes, or until custards are set in the middle. Remove cups to a rack, and let cool completely at room temperature.
- Cover cups with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve topped with mint-honeyed strawberries, recipe below.
* Canned coconut milk can contain guar gum or other starch-based agents, use only if tolerated.
Recipe: Mint Honeyed Strawberries
- 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, and vanilla. Add the strawberries, and toss to coat.
- Let stand 5-10 minutes at room temperature, or until juices release.
- Add mint, and toss gently. Serve immediately.
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.
This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.