Using cashews for raw/no-bake vegan desserts is the gold standard and I love using them because they are nutritious and filling. However, I go through so many cashews in my desserts that every once in a while I look to switch things up a bit. I sometimes get afraid many of my desserts to end up tasting the same so I like to experiment with different alternatives. For this particular dessert, I wanted to firm up my silken tofu without using cashews, coconut or cacao butter. That is why I reached for agar powder (even though I swore not to use it again).
It’s been quite a few years since I have used agar powder in my cooking. I first tried it a couple of times more than 6 years ago when I was attempting to make vegan cheese. I decided then and there that I would avoid using it. I simply could not tell if what I was doing was working and I could not gauge how much the cheese would harden once it was cool. I hated the texture both times I used it and decided I didn’t need it in my life, especially since it was so expensive as well. Recently, however, I’ve noticed quite a few vegan desserts calling for agar powder. The filling always looks so perfectly sturdy and professional. I was drawn to the idea because it means you can mix up the ingredients a bit and not have to rely on cashews or coconut cream/cacao powder for firmness. it really seems like an entirely new way to do raw desserts, so I thought I would give it a try. Unfortunately for me, I am still not a fan because I wasn’t totally happy with the results. I simply hate whisking the agar on the stove until it thickens. I find the process very stressful. It feels like something can go wrong at any moment. It reminds me of trying to make traditional Romanian style polenta (mamaliga) if you don’t whisk it strongly enough it can form hard little bumps that nobody wants to eat. I’ve never had a very strong hand so since then whisking anything on heat is intimidating for me. In fact, I get my husband to do it whenever possible. I am however determined to keep trying and hopefully find a way to make myself enjoy the process of using agar powder.
Lately, I love mixing up the nuts and seeds I add to my desserts, especially in the base. It’s such an easy way to add extra nutrition and an easy way to eat nuts and seeds that I don’t eat on a regular basis. For this recipe I wanted to use a few different nuts and seeds because unlike many of my desserts, there are no nuts in the filling. The idea for the filling was to use the agar to help the silken tofu mixture solidify and harden a little like jelly. I need to master this process a little better, but I love the idea of it because it changes the texture from a runny custard-like texture to a thicker sturdier curd type texture. I also loved adding the strawberries to create a beautiful soft pink colour. It’s definitely an eye-catching dessert, especially for children who seem to love anything pink. I used a long tart for this recipe but it can easily be adapted to a standard round tart tin if you do not have a long tart.
This recipe is vegan/plant-based, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free. Enjoy.
|No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Long Tart. No Cashews, No Coconut|| |
- 2½ cups walnuts
- ½ cup shelled pistachios
- ½ cup hemp seeds
- 2 cups pitted dates
- 1 TBSP water (if needed)
- about 10 strawberries, hulled
- 2 packets organic silken tofu (300g packet size)
- 4 TBSP maple syrup
- juice 1 lemon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp agar agar powder
- sliced strawberries and raspberries or toppings of choice
- For the base: break down the walnuts, pistachios and hemp seeds into a food processor until they form a coarse crumb. Add in the dates and process again until sticky. Add water 1 TBSP at a time if the mixture is too dry.
- Press mixture evenly into the base and sides of a lightly greased long tart (or round tart) and set aside.
- For the filling, add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Transfer mixture to a saucepan and whisk on low heat until it thickens slightly. about 2-3 minutes.
- Pour mixture over the base. and even out with a spatula.
- Place in the fridge to set for 3-4 hours or longer. The filling should resemble a firm custard.
- Once firm, decorate with sliced strawberries and serve.