Not that I need an excuse to post another sweet recipe, but in case you didn’t know, today is National Dessert Day, and I’m not about to miss out on that opportunity! This treat is yet another super easy recipe to add to your healthy dessert repertoire. A pumpkin recipe nonetheless! As a matter of fact it’s two pumpkin desserts to add to your recipe box, because one small tweak transforms this creamy pumpkin pie custard cup into a perfectly set pumpkin panna cotta.
That’s right, it’s a two-for-one deal today, friends!
In addition to being completely vegan, these ultimate fall desserts are nut-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and refined sugar free. The cute single-serving size make them a great option for a dinner party or gathering, and are way easier than making a pie. Just add the ingredients to the blender, cook for a few minutes, and let them set in the fridge. They’re so yummy, in fact, I might just make these for Thanksgiving this year. They’re a delicious way to satisfy that craving for pumpkin pie, without the eggs, dairy, flour-y crust, and sugar.
I admit, I had to google the difference between panna cotta and custard/flan. Custard, I knew, is traditionally made with eggs. Panna cotta is an Italian dessert made with gelatin. For this vegan version, I used agar agar powder. If you’re new to using agar agar, fear not, it is very easy to use. It is a gelling agent that works like gelatin, but unlike gelatin which comes from the collagen of animals, agar agar is 100% plant derived and vegan. Agar agar powder is derived from seaweed, specifically it is a red algae, and has been used as a food additive in East Asia for centuries. It comes in several forms, but I have only used it in powder form. I know there may be some concern over algae thickeners and the like, and the possibility for stomach upset. Everyone is different, but I can tell you I was eating this custard/panna cotta like it was going out of style, and served it to my family and we didn’t experience any adverse side effects. You only need such a very small amount for the entire recipe, that it shouldn’t be a problem, but avoid it of course if you have a known sensitivity. I have some ideas in the notes for possible substitutions.
Whether you go with panna cotta or make them into custard cups, you will not be sorry, my fellow pumpkin lovers! Eazy peazy pumpkin pie!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Custard Cups or Panna Cotta
- 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk (can also use almond, cashew, or soy)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- pinch of salt
- dash of allspice
- optional – 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
For custard consistency: 1/2 tsp of agar agar powder
For panna cotta: 1 tsp – 1 1/4 tsp agar agar powder
- Blend everything except the agar agar in your blender on high until smooth and completely mixed. Taste. Add spices or maple syrup to taste.
- Add contents of blender to a medium pot and heat over low/medium.
- Mix the agar agar powder with 2-3 Tbsp of hot water in a small bowl (I heated the water in my kettle). Mix mix mix. Mix it fast until very smooth and no lumps remain.
- Add the agar agar mixture to the pot and whisk it in very well. Keep stirring, the pumpkin mixture should start bubbling. Turn the heat down and let it cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove from heat. I gave it a really good stir with a whisk, to make sure the agar agar didn’t clump. You could also let it cool for a bit and then carefully add it back to the blender for another blend (use EXTREME caution if doing this). I didn’t feel that was necessary, but I did whisk it very well.
- Divide mixture into 4 ramekins, custard cups or small bowls and let it chill for a couple of hours or even overnight. Serve with whipped coconut cream if making custard cups. For the panna cotta, loosen by running a knife around the inside perimeter of the dish, then invert onto a plate, add a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped nuts.
Notes: If you would like to avoid the agar agar powder, perhaps try adding more coconut oil, maybe up to 1/4 cup. Or, try using two cans of coconut milk, chill them in the fridge overnight, and use only the thick cream at the top (in place of the coconut milk). You probably won’t get the firm set of the agar agar powder, but it will be a thick pudding/custard.