Whole Living Daily

Vegan (And Soy-Free!) Créme Brulee: Food Allergy Recipe Challenge # 14

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You people have been asking for a pudding or custard recipe long enough! I’ve had requests for dairy-free, egg-free crème caramel, flan, crème brulee, pudding, and custard.  Last week, Flo requested a vanilla pudding or vanilla custard, free not only of the top 8 most common allergens, but also rice-free, potato-free, and corn-free too. This was a challenge, Flo – thanks for making me sweat!   Additionally, Flo lives in France, where I don’t believe you can purchase my go-to: Ener-G Egg Replacer. I really had to put on my thinking cap for this one. Allergen-free, vegan, no rice, potato, or corn… international shopping restrictions…. I didn’t have a clue.

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1 The delicious finished product: Vegan (and soy-free) Créme Brulee!

2 Cook the mixture until it thickens.

3 Pour it into ramekins.

4 Once it's chilled, set the ramekin on the counter.

5 Sprinkle the top with sugar.

6 Being very careful, torch the sugar.

7 Let the caramel harden, for the breakable top layer.

What I did have, however, was a kitchen blow torch. So I decided to commit myself to a Crème Brulee, and figure it out as I went along.

The trick, I discovered, to creating an allergen-free vegan, internationally-friendly Crème Brulee? Coconut milk for the cream, tapioca starch for the eggs, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and a few ramekins. This recipe got a lot of love from my son Lennon, but I may attempt to further perfect the concept in coming blogs… perhaps with Flan, so check back to see it in a new incarnation. And remember to keep your requests rolling.

Read on to make your free-of-almost-everything custard!

Vegan (and soy-free!) Crème Brulee
Makes 4 Servings

Most vegan Crème Brulee relies on silken tofu or cashew nuts. Neither are allergy-friendly ingredients, so for this recipe, I’ve turned to the magical thickening powers of tapioca. You could easily substitute cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot starch, if you can’t eat tapioca. The all-natural food coloring is an optional ingredient, but adds the pale yellow hue that egg yolks traditionally give to custards. Skip it if it’s not already in your kitchen. Additionally, if you do have access to Ener-G Egg Replacer, it will give you a firmer custard. Add 2 ¼ teaspoons of Egg Replacer during step 1.

  • 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
  • 4 Tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoons tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8th teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons vegan milk of choice
  • 1/8th teaspoon yellow food coloring (try Seelect all natural food coloring) (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons vanilla sugar (or ¼ cup granulated sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder, or just plain old granulated sugar
  1. Combine ¼ cup of the coconut milk with the tapioca starch, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and vegan milk. Whisk well to combine. Add food coloring and whisk well. If you want it more yellow, add a drop more until desired color is achieved.
  2. Combine remaining coconut milk (be sure to scrape out entire contents of can with a rubber spatula) with light brown sugar in heavy pot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Add coconut milk/ tapioca starch mixture to pot. Heat over medium heat, whisking continuously until it begins to simmer.  Reduce heat to low and cook, whisking continuously about 4 minutes, or until thickened. You want it thick. It may seem a little goopy but it will smooth out to a creamy texture once it chills.
  3. Transfer to 4 small ramekins (or Crème Brulee dishes, if you have them, I didn’t!).
  4. Let cool in fridge at least 4 hours.
  5. When ready to serve, remove ramekins from fridge and place on a flat surface. Sprinkle tops evenly with about 2 teaspoons sugar each.  FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS on your blow torch, caramelize the sugar, by working in small circles, melting sugar until golden. It will harden quickly. Serve. If you don’t have a blow torch , you can skip the caramelized topping and just serve it as custard.

Vegan (soy-free!) Crème Brulee
© 2010 by Cybele Pascal

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.com. If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person's food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns beforeconsumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

Cybele Pascal is the award-winning author of "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook" and the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook." She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam, sons Lennon and Monte, and their dogs, Izzie and Carly (who also has food allergies). Please visit her website at CybelePascal.com.

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Comments (20)

  • Why thank you! I'm allergic to corn as well so I won't have to make ANY substitutions. By now you know what a nut case I am so I'll be making this, tasting it once it's chilled and then putting it into my ICE CREAM MAKER!!! So thanks for the double recipe.

  • BTW I want to make Hostess Snowballs. I just need a cream filling recipe that doesn't rely on any kind of margarine. like Spectrum or Earth Balance. I'm thinking that I can replace the corn syrup with rice syrup for the marshmallow. What do you think?

  • Laurel - I have made a fluffy cream filling that just uses palm oil shortening, powdered sugar, vanilla, and water, if that will work for you.

    Basically just beat together 1/2 cup of shortening, ~1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and enough water to get the consistency you want. If you can eat barley (my son can't), a tablespoon of barley malt powder will give it a more marshmallowy flavor. If you want it more "buttery," Wilton's butter flavor is dairy-free (don't know about your other allergens, so check).

    This is our go-to cream filling. :)

  • If I add the Ener-G, do I still use the same amount of tapioca starch? Also, have you tried the recipe with coconut cream vs coconut milk? I have access to that and am wondering if it would produce a creamer brulee.

    Finally, I bake almost everyday. Sometimes twice a day. Your recipes rock. seriously. I have tons of allergy free baking books cause I'm a baking fiend and your book is the BEST. Yesterday I made the carrot ginger cupcakes with buttercream orange frosting. I left out the ginger cause I don't care for it in desserts and it was astounding. Thank you! You literally changed my baking life.

  • looks great and so simple! still craving a chocolate sandwich cookie similar to oreos!

  • I am wondering if I can make this with rice milk. My daughter is sensitive to coconut of all things.

  • Laurel... or invert syrup...

    Angelina: Yes, just add the egg replacer too. Same tapioca quantity. I think coconut cream would make it too sweet. It's so much sweeter than coconut milk. Thanks for the kind words. Those carrot cupcakes are dangerous. They are my favorite recipe in the whole book.

    Alicia, you could use rice milk, but will definitely need the egg replacer. Also use corn syrup instead of the light brown sugar if you can. Wholesome Sweeteners makes a GMO-free Light Corn Syrup now.



  • Thanks Rebecca:
    I'll have to check out the Wilson's; can't do the barley as it contains gluten and I do miss malt flavor in baking. I've been meaning to try to make my own powdered sugar by grinding down cane sugar and adding probably arrowroot as I'm not too good with corn either. I really appreciate the recipe though.

    Cybele: I'll have to look for invert sugar. I can't seem to find Lyle's which I thought might also work.

  • Laurel: Lyle's is essentially the same thing. Also, both Whole Foods 365 and Wholesome Sweeteners make their confectioners sugar with tapioca starch not cornstarch!

  • would love either a pancake using that fantastic authentic foods 'classical mix' flour or a pasta recipe that could be used to make homemade raviolis

  • Wow, Cybele, thanks! I did not know that.

    Laura: you might try Jenn's website the cinnamon quill although you may have to make a substitution depending on your allergies. http://thecinnamonquill.com/blog/?p=1016 She did a thin mint/oreo type cookie a few months back. Good luck!

  • Thanks so much for making this! It looks absolutely delicious. I think I will have to try it some time, because my grandmother loves Crème Brulee and Flan, but seeing how this is a lot more friendlier then most, I can't have very many sweet desserts in my house because I'm a Diabetic, but this one looks as if it won't spike a blood sugar, more importantly it's dietary and covers the fact that I'm a Vegetarian/Pescetarian and on a healthier path to a new life style. I find that I'm always looking for a dessert that will be worth trying and I can't wait to attempt this. I've yet to get your cook books, but I will be sooner or later!

  • Thank you fo all the hard work you are doing for us! Because these "specialty" ingredients cost so much I tend not to do too much experimenting of my own although it seems everyday is an experiment :) Please I need a snack bar. Something healthy to give the kids while on the go. Crackers or bars... We LOVE your graham crackers and they are a staple in our pantry!

  • Hi! I found you through your recipe for the chicken fried rice when I was looking up soy-free, gluten-free chinese recipes. So excited to find that and the donut recipes! Can’t wait to try them.

    I'm not sure if this is the place to request something (sorry if not!) but here goes. I have celiacs, and am also lactose intolerant, and have an allergy to soy and anything in the Nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, etc). The first few no-no’s I can get by without, but I can’t tell you how many recipes out there I miss from that last doozy with Nightshades. But one in particular that I especially would love to figure out would be lasagna – the original tomato and cheese w/ flat noodles kind. I can’t for the life of me find anything that beats the flavor and texture of what tomato sauce does for lasagna. I don’t know if there is anything out there that could substitute it, but I figured from what you’ve been able to do with the other challenges, who knows. :) Thanks a ton if you choose to tackle this little number! :)

  • [...] Vegan (And Soy-Free!) Créme Brulee: Food Allergy Recipe Challenge ... 1 The delicious finished product: Vegan (and soy-free) Créme Brulee 2 Cook the mixture until it thickens. 3 Pour it into ramekins. 4 Once it's chilled, set the ramekin on the counter. 5 Sprinkle the top with sugar. [...]

  • To echo sheeba would adore a a basic pancake recipe with the classical blend and a homemade pasta recipe so I can make raviolis. Sheeba was reading my mind on that one!

  • Hi: You gave a recipe for vanilla sugar...when does that come into play? Add it when you add the granulated sugar? Thanks!

  • [...] Recipe adapted from http://wholelivingdaily.wholeliving.com/2010/08/vegan-and-soy-free-creme-brulee-food-allergy-recipe-... [...]

  • Omg. Thank you for experimenting! I'm so excited to make this! My son turns one next month and I discovered he loves creme brûlée (and i do too) but were allergic to eggs and dairy. He also has a gluten and wheat allergy :(

    So this will be his first bday treat!

  • Well, looked delicious so I tried the recipe. I followed the recipe to the letter but ended up with a gooey paste even when chilled for 12+ hours. Taste is amazing but texture makes it un-edible.

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