Vegan Custard Pie with a decadent shortbread crust, coconut custard and winter fruits drizzled with sweet balsamic syrup.
I love winter produce – somehow, set against the dreary landscape of the season, they appear more so vibrant. My mind is a world of technicolor (as evidenced by my photos), so come winter, I draw consolation and inspiration in the colors of the produce, evergreen foliage, brightly colored ribbons, tinsel and mistletoe.
And so it seems fitting, that I painted the not-so-vibrant canvas of custard with the colors of fruit – and if I may say so myself, she is a beauty and may even be one of my favorite pies!
Fruits and custard have always been my thing – ever since my first taste of mangoes + vanilla custard as a child. To me, it is a religious experience in itself during the summer, as the tangy, sweet golden fruit pairs magically with the creaminess of the custard. If you haven’t tried this combination yourself, I sincerely urge you to, as soon as you can get your hands on good, summer mangoes (none of the off-season slush though!).
Custard for me though, has never been the milk and eggs kind as it is commonly made in most of the world. I grew up in India, a largely vegetarian country, and my only version of custard came in a box – essentially cornstarch, flavoring and food color that is used to thicken milk. So when I tried the traditional version in my early 20s, I was revolted by how eggy it was.
And so I’ve happily stayed with my box custard, which is good, as it turns out that it was my lot in life to turn Vegan one day. But if you do not share my plant-based predilections, then by all means, make this recipe using your favorite traditional custard recipe, and blind baking the crust for just 10 minutes, then baking it with the custard until set. I promise you, you will love it.
This plant-based version though uses agar agar in the custard, which is quite unusual, but made necessary here because of the need for slicing. I imagine slicing through actual custard can be quite a messy affair, hence the agar agar, which holds the custard together in crisp, perfect slices, yet melts into a puddle in the heat of your mouth.
This custard is on the firmer side of things, but if you still desire the jiggle, I’d recommend using 3/4 tsp instead of the full 1 tsp listed in the recipe below.
This pie is best eaten on the day it is made (because I hate soggy pie crusts and that’s what you’ll get when you refrigerate this pie, and considering that it’s got a custard sitting on top, it cannot be reheated like traditional pies). Make the pie crust in advance and refrigerate: you can either bake it on the day of or blind bake it ahead of time, and then fill with custard on the day of.
I hope this custard finds its way into your holiday tables this year – with the muted decadence and a delicious array of fresh winter produce, it would be the perfect end to a perfect evening!
And when you make this delicious VEGAN Custard Pie (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!