Vegan espresso crème caramel with pistachio biscotti

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This vegan crème caramel recipe is spiked with espresso for a delicious dinner party dessert, served with pistachio biscotti on the side for a little extra crunch. This recipe is taken from Mildreds Vegan Cookbook, published by Mitchell Beazley. Images by Matt Russell.

First published in 2018

This is a proper grown-up dessert and ideal for a dinner party or special occasion meal, as it can be prepared in advance. In fact, the crème caramel is very much the better for being allowed to sit for 12 hours or more. You might think that since the main ingredient here is coconut milk it would have a coconut flavour, but we have found that the coffee and caramel neutralize it.

Some people are intimidated by the concept of caramel, but it’s very simple to make if you don’t fiddle around with it too much. Never stir or whisk caramel as it cooks or the sugar will crystallize around the edge of the pan and you’ll end up with a lumpy mess. Also, you must work fast once the caramelization occurs, as the sugar will continue to cook otherwise. The sugar is very hot once caramelized, so it’s best not to have kids around while you’re making it, and don’t be tempted to stick your finger in it to taste. The biscotti are a little extra effort, but they are a simple biscuit to make and keep for ages. We have two Italian lads (non-vegan) working in the bakery and they love these – enough said!




Crème caramels

  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 75ml of water

Espresso crème

  • 800ml of coconut milk, full fat
  • 50ml of espresso, freshly brewed. You may need more or less depending on the strength of your espresso
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 3g of agar agar
  • 1 pinch of vanilla seeds, scraped from the pod

Pistachio biscotti

  • 2 tbsp of cornflour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of orange juice
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 80g of pistachio nuts, (unsalted and roasted) roughly ground
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 60ml of almond milk
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • vegan single cream, for brushing
  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  • 75g of dark chocolate, (vegan, minimum 70% cocoa solids)


  • 6 panna cotta or dariole moulds


Place 6 metal dariole moulds or ramekins on a heatproof mat or chopping board ready to use
Put the sugar in a saucepan and add the measured water – just enough to make all the sugar wet. Bring to the boil, without stirring, and simmer until the sugar starts to catch, that is when dark caramel spots begin to appear. (This takes 5–10 minutes, but don’t be tempted to leave the room because you might come back to a pan full of smoking black tar.) Once the sugar has reached this stage, give the pan a quick swirl and then continue to cook until it reaches an even orange brown (caramel) colour
Quickly coat the base of each dariole mould or ramekin with about 2 tablespoons of the caramel. This is where you need to work fast, as the caramel will continue cooking
Next make the espresso crème. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, adding just enough espresso to achieve a café latte colour and flavour, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 10–15 minutes, whisking frequently with a balloon whisk, until all the agar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve
Pour the espresso crème into the moulds and refrigerate for 12–24 hours until ready to serve
To make the biscotti, preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment
Mix the cornflour with the orange juice to make a smooth paste and set aside
Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and ground pistachios into a bowl, add the orange zest and mix together
Beat the sugar with the almond milk, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a bowl, until frothy. Add the cornflour paste and whisk for a further 3 minutes or so. Fold in the flour mixture until a dough forms
Divide the dough into 2 flattened loaves about 7.5cm (3 inches) wide and about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. Transfer to the lined baking tray, then brush with a little vegan cream and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 35 minutes
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes
Using a sharp bread or serrated knife, cut each loaf on a slight diagonal into slices about 1cm (½ inch) thick. (Don’t worry if you lose a few in the cutting process.) Lay the slices carefully on the lined baking sheet and bake for a further 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then drizzle with the melted chocolate, if you like
To turn the crème caramels out, hold each mould with your hand over the top and give the caramel a small firm shake from side to side. It should loosen inside the mould. Place a plate on top and turn both the mould and plate over together. The crème caramel should come away when you lift the mould. Serve with the biscotti

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