Agar-agar is a substance extracted from algae most commonly used as vegan replacement for gelatin, which is made from collagen found inside animal bones. The main reason I hadn't used it before was that I didn't know where to purchase it for a reasonable price. Thanks to the interwebs, I found out that you can buy it quite cheaply at Asian markets. So drove over to Li Ming's Global Mart, Durham's new and amazing Asian store, and found it in powdered form for about $1.50 per 28 grams. Score. As soon as I got back from Li Ming's I used my agar-agar to make jelly, but I'll save that for another post.
Thanks to the agar-agar, the pie filling had exactly the texture I'd hoped it would. As for it's flavor, it's not intensely sweet so if that's how you prefer your desserts you'll have to add a bit more maple syrup. The crust is so tasty I could eat it on its own, and maybe I will some day, formed into bars or rolled into balls. It also holds up to slicing, although as with any pie, the crust may crumble off the first slice. While this pie may look as decadent as the tart I was inspired by, it's not. However, having a relatively healthy pie on hand isn't so bad. I used it as an excuse to eat a slice for my birthday breakfast. Why? Because I'll only turn a quarter of a century once.
No-Bake Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie
Inspired by El Comidista's Tarta Sin Horno de Fresas, Crema, y Queso (No Oven Strawberry, Cream and Cheese Tart)
Makes 1 pie
For the crust
- 1 1/2 cups almonds or other nut of choice
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 large pitted dates
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- About 15 medium strawberries, or as many as you need to top the pie, stems removed and halved lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup or to taste
- 1 lb 4 oz / 567 g silken tofu
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
- 2 1/2 teaspoons agar-agar powder or 2 1/2 tablespoons of agar-agar flakes
- Optional: 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut for garnish
2. Combine the strawberries, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons maple syrup in a bowl, stirring to make sure the strawberries are evenly coated. Set aside.
3. After rinsing out your food processor, toss in the tofu, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup maple syrup and coconut oil and process until creamy. Bring the almond milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and mix in the agar agar. Cook whisking continuously for 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add in the tofu mixture and continue to whisk for another 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the crust.
4. Drain the strawberries and arrange artfully (or not) them on the top of the pie. Optionally, sprinkle the top with some shredded coconut. Cover the pie and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour before enjoying it.