Vanilla bean almond cream

Gluten-free / Dairy-free / Egg-free

Makes approx. 3 cups/750ml

This is my classic dairy-free custard cream made with almond milk, which is a lighter option for the hotter weather. It is perfect for pouring over a piece of plain cake, served with fruit or used in a trifle.

435ml (1 ¾ cups) freshly prepared almond milk 310 ml (1 ¼ cups) coconut milk 70 ml maple syrup 11⁄2 teaspoons agar powder 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste 11⁄2 tablespoons kudzu (kuzu) or cornflour (cornstarch)

Place 375ml (1 ½ cups) almond milk, 250ml (1 cup) coconut milk and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle the agar over the top and whisk well to distribute the agar. Add the vanilla seeds and bean halves. (If using vanilla paste, you will add this later.) Whisk together and bring to a gentle boil. Continue to simmer very gently, stirring frequently to prevent the mixture sticking on the base, for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the remaining 60ml (¼ cup) almond milk and the kudzu to form a paste. When the agar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat, and take out and discard the bean halves. Add the kudzu mix to the pan, whisking rapidly as you do so - it will begin to thicken as soon as you add it. Place back over low heat, whisking constantly as it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat (and if using vanilla bean paste, whisk it through now). Pour into a clean bowl and allow to cool slightly. Press a piece of baking paper onto the surface and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

When set, put what will be a fairly solid mix in the blender. To this, add 60 ml of water (or any remaining almond milk) and the remaining 60 ml coconut milk. Blend for 5 minutes or until silky smooth, scraping down the sides from time to time - this is important and it takes time to get it silky smooth.

Place the mixture in an airtight container, press a piece of baking paper onto the surface, and seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight, before using. The cream will keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.