Dana Slatkin

Vegan Almond Milk Flan

Photo credit: Pat Illing

Slightly adapted from Chef Lee Gross, M Café

My first attempt at flan was an epic fail. It was a few weeks ago, when I was testing the recipe for my Macro Mexican class. Instead of a delicate, silky custard bathed in caramel, mine turned out way too sweet and strangely lumpy. I was pretty sure I never wanted to make flan again.

But the recipe came by way of one of my favorite vegan chefs, Lee Gross of M Café (and Gwyneth Paltrow) fame. Plus, Passover and Easter were fast approaching, and I wanted my students to have an elegant dessert for the holidays. I had to persevere.

The day before the class, I whipped up a giant batch of flan for my thirty students. That night, I peeked on one of the custards to make sure it was suitable for serving. My heart sank. Though it unmolded easily onto the plate, it was riddled with lumps again, more rice pudding than flan.

So at 10 pm that night, I began another batch. This time I stirred the custard longer to make sure it was smooth. I poured it into thirty ramekins and said a prayer. Then I went to bed.

The next morning, I carefully tipped a flan onto a plate. It slid out with a perky jiggle, amber-colored caramel pooling around it. I took a spoonful. Yum…sweet victory.

Dessert got raves from my students that day, and the recipe seemed just right to share with you now. Light and lovely, this flan manages without sugar, dairy, eggs, leaveners or flour. Its sprightly poise comes from the use of arrowroot powder, a thickening starch that functions like a more digestible cornstarch, and agar-agar, a seaweed-derived gelatin that gives the custard its Jello-like bounce. Both ingredients can be found at natural food stores or your favorite online supplier. A word to the wise: make sure each dissolves thoroughly to avoid the dreaded lumps.

Bookended by two major holidays, this week can be a loaded one. It is weighted with history, expectations, perhaps some deep soul-searching. But with a little perseverance, you might find fresh inspiration…and a surprising lightness of being that perfectly suits the season.

Looking for more recipes for Passover and Easter? Here are a few of my favorites:

Wild Mushroom Paté

Dana’s Fluffy Matzah Balls

Perfect Potato-Zucchini Latkes

Spring Spinach Salad with Beets, Avocado and Papaya-Seed Vinaigrette

Frisee Salad with Green Beans and Sherry Vinaigrette

Israeli Tomato Feta Salad

Arugula Salad with Radishes and Creamy Hemp Parmesan Dressing

Artichoke Risotto

Greek Frittata with Spinach, Feta, and Potato

Flourless Fig Walnut Torte

Ottolenghi’s Flourless Chocolate Cake



Disclaimer: This post contains innocent affiliate links, earnestly intended to help dear readers make informed consumer choices while supporting invaluable, unsponsored, free-of-charge and delicious content.

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