Coconut and banana custards

Simple to make, sublime and smooth to taste, without the dairy products and refined sugar that most custard desserts contain. You can sprinkle a few cubes of peeled mango, sliced strawberries or blueberries over each custard before serving, and a small teaspoon of maple syrup to make it look pretty. A sprinkling of cinnamon over the top adds to the flavour. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups coconut cream
¼ cup coconut nectar, or maple or rice syrup
1 large banana
1 tablespoon pure vanilla essence (vanilla extract)
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder

Directions:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for 4–5 minutes until it thickens slightly.

2. Transfer the mixture to small moulds and allow to set in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Tips:

Agar-agar is a seaweed-based gelling agent used as a vegetarian replacement for gelatin. As a rule of thumb, to thicken 1 cup of liquid, use 1 teaspoon of agar-agar powder, 1 tablespoon of agar-agar flaked or ½ an agar-agar bar. Using the powder yields more consistent results. Substitute gelatin with the same amount of agar-agar powder. The solution you are trying to thicken with the agar-agar powder needs to be heated to boiling point and then allowed to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Recipe extracted from Feed Your Brain: The Cookbook by Delia McCabe (RRP $34.99), available from www.exislepublishing.com and wherever good books are sold.