This Vegan Black Sesame Crème Caramel came about as I was inspired by my Matcha Panna Cotta to experiment with other Japanese-flavoured European desserts. I originally planned on calling it Black Sesame Panna Cotta, but then settled for Black Sesame Crème Caramel, mostly because I realised the soft, custardy pudding paired with the thick date syrup closely resembles a crème caramel, both in terms of aesthetics as well as texture.
This crème caramel is perfect if you’re looking for a dessert that’s quirky and modern, as well as naturally sweetened and relatively healthy.
It can also be made up to a few days in advance, so it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert for summer dinner parties, picnics and BBQs!
What’s more, this vegan crème caramel is actually way easier to make than a regular crème caramel. All you need to do is heat up some coconut cream (for a rich and thick base -I like this coconut cream from Alpro) with a little rice milk (for natural sweetness), then add some agar flakes to make it set.
Agar is a great vegan (and healthier) substitute for gelatine – it’s a natural jelly-like substance that comes from algae that grows in the sea. It was first discovered in Japan in the 17th century, where it is known as kanten. It’s very healthy as it’s around 80% fibre.
You will be able to find agar flakes in most local health stores or Asian supermarkets, if not your local supermarket. I use this one by Clearspring, which you can buy in supermarkets and health stores in the UK.
Black sesame may sound a little strange in a dessert, but it’s one of my favourite flavours! It’s deliciously nutty and surprisingly delicate and pairs beautifully with date syrup, which I discovered is a perfect healthier substitute for kuromitsu (a Japanese sugar syrup that’s similar to molasses).
You can either buy black sesame seeds and crush them yourself using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder, or buy them ready-crushed. If you’re based in the UK, you can buy crushed black sesame seeds online from the Japan Centre. Alternatively, you could use black sesame tahini, which is available in most local health stores or online.
And finally, I like to serve these black sesame crème caramels with some coconut yogurt or coconut whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 1/2 teaspoon agar flakes (check the instructions on the packet as the amount needed tends to vary between brands)
- 200ml coconut cream
- 100ml rice milk
- 3 tablespoons crushed black sesame seeds (either buy already crushed ones or crush them yourself using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar, or sub 1 teaspoon black sesame tahini)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or sugar)
- 6 tablespoons date syrup
- Coconut yogurt/coconut whipped cream
- Fresh strawberries or raspberries
- Add agar flakes, coconut cream, rice milk, maple syrup and crushed black sesame seeds to a saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring gently (read the instructions on the agar packet carefully first as it can vary between brands)
- Once the mixture has reached boiling point, pour it either into individual pots or into a large container and refrigerate until set (for a few hours or overnight)
- To serve, drizzle a tablespoon of date syrup onto each individual serving of crème caramel, then top with coconut yogurt and fresh berries
- If you don't need this to be dairy-free, you can substitute the coconut cream for normal double cream and use normal milk instead of rice milk