I am inspired to try to make a vegan bûche do noël for Christmas this year. This is a French confection usually consisting of: a thin chocolate cake layer in an arch filled with frozen chantilly cream, ganache, praline, and chocolate sheets, sitting on a nutty cookie base, all glazed with chocolate. Sounds delicious! Sounds very un-vegan! Why did I decide to do this?
1. I had a batch of candied ginger chocolate ganache in my fridge last week that I made too soft for truffles,
2. Ever since reading the back-entry on Foodbeam I was kind of impressed, and
3. Annick and I are hosting the family dinner and I want to knock their socks off.
I’ll post all about the bûche if it works out, but right now my main focus is the frozen chantilly cream (sweetened whipped cream). It is hard to make a vegan substitute, and as many people can attest to, store-bought soy ice cream just doesn’t taste great.
At Chez Minty we have been using whipped coconut cream as a substitute for whipped cream for a couple of years, with moderate success. It’s tasty on hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, and in strawberry shortcake. The problems are that is has a slightly bitter coconut taste, and it’s denser than dairy whipped cream. Not only that, but I had never before tried freezing it. I needed something that when frozen and then slightly thawed would come out like a softish ice cream.
I could make soy or almond milk ice cream, but I don’t have an ice cream maker, and freezing, mixing, freezing, and mixing too laborious on top of an already labour-intensive dessert. I want something I can whip up, pour into the mould, and then freeze.
That said, my first attempt last week was with whipped coconut cream. I added a bit of rum, vanilla, lemon juice, and icing sugar. It tasted delicious, but not once I froze it. It hardened to a brick, and once it was semi-firm, a spoonful of it was far too greasy tasting. Think a spoonful of whipped, sweetened vegetable shortening.
Tonight I tried again.
I bought Silk coffee beverage, which is a soy-based creamer substitute, full of additives and stabilizers. (For those of you that are curious, on its own it tastes only mildly soy-like. It doesn’t taste as strongly as natural soymilks – it definitely has that processed taste. It’s not as fatty tasting as I was expecting, though it has 1g of fat per 15mL/tablespoon.)
My plan was to use the coconut cream as a fat base, and then add the Silk creamer to thin it out and add some protein and carbs to stabilise it. I think that in my first attempt, the coconut cream alone was too heavy for much air to be whipped in.
I decided to embark on my culinary experimentation in a scientific manner. I actually measured the volume of ingredients going in, the fraction removed for each sample (I couldn’t use volume as a gauge since that would change as I whipped it), and took pictures and notes.
I started with the same base, and added more Silk and/or sugar for each sample. I will check on my frozen samples tomorrow, but here is a summary of what I did tonight:
1. Coconut cream base:
1 can high-quality coconut milk, refrigerated >4 hours.
15 mL good-quality rum
5 mL vanilla
1.25 mL lemon juice
30 mL icing (powdered) sugar
Remove the coconut milk from the fridge and open it without shaking. Spoon off the fatty cream from the top and put it in the COLD bowl of your mixer. This should be about the colour and consistency of shortening, and should comprise at least 90% of the can’s contents. Discard the watery liquid at the bottom of the can.
Start whipping the coconut cream. Add the other ingredients, stopping to scrape down the bowl every now and then. Whip for about 2 minutes, until stiff peaks form.Total approximate volume: 410 mL
2. The additions:
Cold Silk creamer
Extra icing sugar
Add 40 mL Silk to the bowl and whip for 2 more minutes.Total approximate volume: 450 mL I removed 1/8 of the batch at this time, and called it Test #1.
Add 20 mL Silk to the bowl and whip for 2 more minutes.Total approximate volume: 410 mL I removed 1/5 of the batch at this time, and called it Test #2.
Add 5 mL icing sugar to the bowl and whip for 2 more minutes.Total approximate volume: 325 mL I removed 1/4 of the batch at this time, and called it Test #3.
Add 10 mL Silk to the bowl and beat for 2 more minutes.Total approximate volume: 235 mL (I recorded this a little differently in my notes, so forgive me if it doesn’t quite add up here!)
I removed 1/3 of the batch at this time, and called it Test #4.
Test #1, 10% Silk
-Firm peaks, soft taste in my mouth, smooth on the tongue.
-Not overwhelmingly coconutty, nor bitter.
Test #2, 15% Silk
-Firm smooth peaks, soft taste in my mouth, a little airier, still smooth on my tongue.
-Lighter tasting than #1. Still a slight coconut flavour, but no hint of soy yet.
Test #3, 15% Silk, extra sugar and beating
-Slightly firm peaks, I would call this “fluffy” and a bit fragile. Very airy.
-Very light taste compared to original coconut cream, but comes apart a bit on my tongue.
-Similar to how I remember dairy whipped cream.
Test #4, 20% Silk
-Soft peaks, falls off my finger and inverted spatula.
-Tastes thin in my mouth and definitely comes apart on the tongue rather than coating it. I couldn’t really call this very creamy anymore.
-Looks a little “gritty,” sort of like soft peak meringue.
So far test #2 is my favourite. I’ll see for sure tomorrow!
Next Post: conclusion of the test after freezing and tasting