The Key Ingredient For Thick And Creamy Vegan Custard Is Cornstarch

The quest for a thick and creamy custard can seem daunting for those exploring vegan alternatives to classic desserts. Traditional custard relies heavily on eggs, especially egg yolks, and heavy cream for its texture and flavor. However, there is a key ingredient to achieving a luscious, vegan-friendly custard. And don't worry, we won't gatekeep this secret. It's an everyday kitchen staple: cornstarch. Cornstarch is known to be a game-changer for vegan desserts and vegan bakers. It will help you create a perfect vegan custard or a delectable crème brûlée that rivals the eggy-creamy ones.

Cornstarch, like potato, arrowroot, or tapioca starches, is a thickening agent. When heated, the starch granules in cornstarch will absorb liquid, swell, and then burst, thickening the liquid they're swimming in. This process is called gelatinization. The ability to gelatinize and thicken liquids makes cornstarch an ideal egg substitute when making creamy custards. Your vegan custards will be thick, luscious, and smooth without relying on animal-based products. Plus, eggs can curdle when overcooked in custard, while cornstarch provides a more forgiving and stable thickening process.

Always make a cornstarch slurry when cooking with cornstarch

Here are a few things to consider to make a thick and creamy vegan custard with cornstarch: Without egg yolks, you won't get the characteristic yellow hues of custards. Add turmeric powder or yellow food coloring to your vegan custard mix to remedy this. Turmeric, a natural spice, offers a subtle, earthy, ginger-like tone without overpowering the custard's flavor. Often, a pinch is enough to achieve the desired color. For a more vibrant yellow, food-grade vegan yellow food coloring can be used, offering control over the intensity of the custard's color.

Regarding the base of vegan custard, choosing which plant-based milk to use is up to your palate. Coconut milk, with its rich, creamy texture, is a popular and practical option for those seeking a thicker consistency. Plain almond, oat, or soy milk are great alternatives for a lighter texture and subtler flavor. 

A challenge that can arise when making vegan custard with cornstarch is dealing with lumpy textures. To ensure a smooth consistency, mixing cornstarch with a small amount of cold liquid is essential first, creating a cornstarch slurry. This step prevents the cornstarch from clumping when added to the vegan hot milk. Gradually whisking the slurry into the hot milk mixture under low heat allows the custard to thicken evenly without forming lumps. And there you have it: thick and creamy vegan custard. The world of vegan baking is expanding, thanks to plant-based alternatives and a little ingenuity.