Friday, 21 November 2014

Longan with Silky Soft Soybean Milk Agar

I'm probably waxing on about the fact its SO hot, and that it is muggy, and the heat, and how hot it is, and it's gross, and hot, and sticky, and goodness, someone throw me in the nearest pool already! As you may know, it is technically classified as SPRING here in the sunshine state called Queensland. But as someone said to me once, there is no Spring or Winter - just Summer and Autumn! Which in all fairness, is a fairly accurate representation of the weather behaviour here.  

So here we are, in Spring, with temperatures soaring to 35 degree averages already, and I am in a corner sweating like the proverbial pig. The mere thought of stepping out to hang out my laundry, or the 10 metres it takes me to walk to my car when I need to pick up the kids, puts the fear of men into me. In short, the smallest things that require me to be subjected to the direct heat makes me run for the hills! As a result, I've been hunting down for a treat to cool myself off with.  

I hope I'm not the only one that when you're sticky and hot, the first thing you reach for is something like ice cream, sorbet or gelato. Something refreshingly cool. You know what isn't cool though? The sheer amount of weight I would put on consuming the amount of ice cream I would need to eat to feel any kind of relief from the heat. And lets face it, as much as I'm all for moderation in terms of the the treats, sometimes you just need to have an alternative for the rich, sweet, creamy ice cream.

So this beautifully soft custard jelly (yeah I'm aware that is a bit of an oxymoron, but you'll understand when you dig in!) is a great alternative for those that want a different approach to those late afternoon snacks to cool off with. The texture runs very close to creme brulee, or if you have had tau foo fah (sweet tofu pudding), very similar to that, with a twist.  At one point, while growing up in Penang, this particular soybean milk agar with longan was a crazy hit and you couldn't get enough of it!

Although soy milk is readily available in supermarkets, a couple of years ago my mother-in-law bought me a soy bean maker. It's such a great machine to have, and obviously a way cheaper way to have have soy milk. I normally make plain soy milk and have on hand, so with that, I decided to give this a whirl, and create a delicious afternoon treat for my boys.

Ingredients :
(makes 10 serves)

1.6L unsweetened soy bean milk (I used fresh, but you can buy the ready made)
385ml evaporated milk 
300ml water
200g sugar
25g of agar agar powder 
1 can of longan 

*Agar agar powder is a vegetarian alternative to gelatine, made from algae. It can be found in your local Asian grocer, or even health food shops.

Steps :

If you are making your own soy bean milk, make that first. Ensure you run it through a fine sieve or muslin cloth at least twice to ensure that the milk is free of residue and will produce a smooth jelly custard at the end.

In a pot, mix water, sugar and agar agar powder together and heat over medium heat, ensuring you dissolve the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, pour half of the soy bean milk in and gently simmer for about 10 minutes. Ensure that the agar agar has also completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

While agar/milk mixture is cooking, pour the evaporated milk into the remaining soy bean milk. Mix well.

Combine both mixture together and pour into glass tumblers or mould of your choice. 

Let it cool completely to room temperature so that the agar will set. 

Scoop 3 longan fruit and half a tablespoon of longan juice on top of custard. Chill for at least 3 hours and serve cold.

Perfect for summer! Doesn't that look deliciously cool and refreshing?? What is your favourite summer dessert?

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