Agar Powder is Creepy

Happy (almost) Canada Day, everyone! If you’re American well…Happy Canada Day anyway! :)

There’s a possibility I’m over the baking slump! I revved my engines this weekend and tried out two new recipes – well, new to me.

I made Vegan Cheese (Thanks Vegangela for the recipe)! I finally remembered to pick up agar powder at the health food store yesterday; that was the only ingredient I was missing, but I kept forgetting to buy it.

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It’s a bit of a finicky recipe. Angela says to let the milk and agar mixture simmer for about ten minutes, but by the time it had gotten to a simmering temperature, it was crazy thick! I probably did end up leaving it on for about as long as she suggests, but no bubbling ensued!

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It definitely does harden up fast once it’s off the heat. It was way too thick to pour through the intake tube of my food processor, so I had to keep stopping it, take the lid off, and use a spatula to scrape the liquid into the bowl.

I happen to have purchased truffle oil a little while ago, so I took this opportunity to use it. I added chives as well, though I’m not sure if I put enough in. My whole kitchen smelled like them after they were chopped, but I’m not convinced that potency transferred to the cheese.

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Can I just say – agar powder is weird! A few minutes had elapsed between scraping the mixture into the bowls, and putting the dishes in the sink, and in the time the left over bits turned into something bearing a startling resemblance to that fake skin used on Halloween. Strange.

I think that next time I will use less miso paste. It was definitely a prevalent taste and while I enjoy it very much, I would prefer the truffle oil and nutritional yeast profiles to come through more.

That said … this stuff is addicting! I have already eaten one of the little dishes of it (yeah, can you say “addictive personality”?) I started out putting it on crackers and “melting” it:

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and then went on to just sort of cut off chunks and eat them. Oh, I also topped cucumber slices – very yummy!

While I think that you have to let your imagination run a bit wild to call it a replacement for traditional cheese – it is delicious.  And sorry dairy farmers – I wasn’t craving traditional cheese, anyway!

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In other news, I mentioned previously how very hot it is here right now. As a matter of fact, I’m contemplating lugging the fan in from the other room so that I don’t die right here at the computer desk. But – and isn’t this the worst of ironies – I’m too warm and lazy to go get it. I will settle for the little desk fan. That one, at least, is only a few steps away.

Although the other day I had the oven going for a few hours despite the heat, yesterday I simply couldn’t bring myself to press those buttons. Instead, I decided to find a recipe for a raw dessert that used cashew cream; I have cashews in my cupboard that aren’t getting better with age, and I have been meaning to make cashew cream ever since the wonderful result of my Mushroom Soup adventures.

The recipe I settled on is for Raw Vegan Carrot Cake with Cashew Cream .  A gooey, date-y base and a delectably sweet cashew cream topping was just the thing for our flushed selves.

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It is an extremely straight-forward recipe, and only took a few hours to firm up in the freezer.

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While the lack of actual cake-y texture will definitely take some getting used to, these treats are pretty darn good.

My only complaint is that the cashew cream freezes up harder than the base. So when you leave them for a few minutes to defrost before devouring, you end up with an almost dough-y “cake” and an icing that is just barely defrosted. Because of this, we have been eating them straight out of the freezer, and the chill seems to be masking the true “oomph” of the flavours.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how one would combat this, short of freezing only the base, and then just spreading the cashew cream on the defrosted pieces when they’re ready to eat.  Actually, that’s not the worst idea, although in that case you would want to eat them pretty quickly. I’m not sure how long the cream would stay good in the fridge.

All in all – yum!

 

*Lou

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2 thoughts on “Agar Powder is Creepy

    • Thanks, Angela! I’m so glad that I finally tried it out – I’ve been meaning to for about a month. The S.O. says it tastes like cream cheese (and he still eats dairy, so he would know), so I consider it a success. Definitely try out the carrot cake – perfect for hot days!

      Thanks for being an inspiration!

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