If you are looking for a vegan pouring cream, reminiscent of a 'single' cream or a pouring 'double' cream, that you can whip up in a jiffy for desserts and big, stodgy puds, then look no further than this really simple recipe.
I developed this recipe after having bought a commercial almond cream which was very tasty and that I wanted to be able to make for myself. Looking at the ingredients on the pack, I felt it was something that should be fairly easy to replicate. I think I did pretty well with this, and it went well too with the Orange & Spice Gluten Free Pudding you see in the lead photograph (recipe to follow!).
In a similar way to dairy cream, this cream is not very strongly flavoured - it is very subtle, with a delicate hint of almond, and it acts simply as a dessert cream is meant to act - to 'wet' the pudding while complimenting it, rather than overpowering it.
Many of the cream recipes I have seen include the use of cashews. However, they usually need soaking to soften them, so it means being organised with your preparation. This, on the otherhand, is a cream which can be whizzed together when a pudding craving strikes, and you absolutely just HAVE to eat that chocolate sponge that has been calling your name. There is a very slight graininess of the ground almond, but it doesn't spoil.
The only 'unusual' ingredient needed is the xanthan gum, although it can be easily purchased from most standard supermarkets in the section meant for people with allergies (such as to wheat and gluten). The gum here acts to thicken the cream quickly without having to heat it up, as would be needed if using corn flour or similar. You only need a tiny amount but it makes a big difference.
In case you're wondering whether it's worth bothering with the xanthan gum - it really is! It will mean a simple job of making cold pouring creams and sauces in the future - and with holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas coming up, you'll probably make a lot of them! Also, xanthan gum can be included in gluten-free cooking.
You can adjust the amount of non-dairy milk in the recipe in order to get the desired consistency - it's a bit easier than trying to do it with the tiny xanthan gum quantity. The non-dairy milk can be switched - for example, even hazelnut milk would go very nicely in this recipe, especially if you want a stronger nutty flavour.
Another variation could be to add more vanilla extract for a stronger vanilla flavour, or brandy (the real thing or flavouring) for a festive cream. And you can try swapping the agave nectar for maple syrup for a deeper, maple taste - or use golden syrup or brown rice syrup if you have those at hand.
If you want a subtle cream though, as I mention above, then these ingredients will work well for you.
This cream also goes well as a topping for fresh fruit, and keeps at least two days in the refrigerator in a covered jug (I haven't been able to resist longer than that!).
Vegan Almond Dessert Cream
Makes 1¼ cup (enough for 4 pudding servings)
½ cup ground almonds
1¼ cups almond or coconut milk or other non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon almond oil or canola / rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1. Whizz the almonds, non-dairy milk, and agave nectar in the blender. Keep the blender running and drizzle in the oil, then add the xantham gum. Add more milk if you want a thinner cream, and more agave if a sweeter cream is desired.
2. Serve with hot puddings, fruit pies, crumbles or fresh fruit.