It’s way too hot these days, so baking and even cooking are out of the question! Salads and no-bake desserts are in order! And, since strawberries are still in season, I couldn’t help myself making a no-bake vegan strawberry tart. And it’s not only a no-bake vegan tart, but it’s also a sugar free and gluten free tart.
I was told by my non-vegan friends that vegan desserts are good, but they kind of taste the same. Reason enough for me to try different ingredients and methods to thicken a tart filling.
So, this time, I introduced a new thickening agent: agar agar.
I’m working with agar agar for quite a while, but now I can really say I found the perfect combination of ingredients and the right quantities to get a firm tart filling with a creamy texture.
What is agar agar
Agar agar is a gelatinous substance obtained from red seaweed, which makes it suitable for vegan / vegetarian recipes. As many other vegan goodies we’re enjoying, it comes from Asia. From Japan, to be more specific. The Japanese accidentally discovered it and named it kanten. Then the Chinese migrants took it to Malaysia and the Malaysians called it agar agar. From here it was brought to Europe, but we didn’t bother finding another name for it :).
And, in case you’re wondering, why agar agar and and not just agar, the explanation is quite simple. Agar means so that in Malaysian / Indonesian, while agar agar means jelly.
How to use agar agar
Agar agar dissolves completely through boiling, as opposed to gelatin which loses its stability if boiled. To get the best results when using agar agar, there are a few things you need to consider:
- boil agar agar in water – it’s better to use a clear liquid, free of color, so you can see whether all agar agar granules are completely dissolved; this helps a lot especially if you’re just starting working with agar agar;
- first mix agar agar in cold water – stir well until all granules separate and only then turn on the heat; otherwise lumps will form and they’ll take much longer to dissolve;
- boil agar agar until it’s completely dissolved – otherwise the filling won’t set up and the texture will be as if it’s cooked with semolina; usually, it needs to boil about 5 minutes until dissolved.
Agar agar works fast and firms up a filling quite quickly. That’s why you need to place it into the mold right after all filling ingredients are well combined. In case you didn’t make, it’s not all lost. The good part is that agar agar can be reheated.
Ingredients for no-bake vegan strawberry tart
In this paragraph you’ll find general information about used ingredients, their role and possible substitutes. Details about quantities and step by step preparation can be found in the recipe card at the end of the article.
A few notes on some of the ingredients I used:
- almonds – I used whole almonds, but you can use almond meal if you wish;
- dates – if the dates you’re using are too dry, soak them for 10 minutes in warm water;
- coconut cream – store the can into the fridge overnight so the cream separates from the water; I had very good results so far using Cocomi and Biona; unfortunately, Amaizin was a big disappointment as I could barely get 50 g of coconut cream (which was not creamy at all);
- cornstarch – agar agar is the ingredient which helps the filling firm up, but the cornstarch makes it creamy; without the starch, your filling will be jelly like;
- rice syrup – agave or maple syrup also work; I prefer using rice syrup as it’s thicker.
How to make no-bake vegan strawberry tart
Place all crust ingredients into a blender and process until a thick sticky paste forms.
Next, put the paste into a tart pan and spread into an even layer. Press well on the bottom and sides so you get a compact crust, otherwise it will easily break. Place the crust into the fridge wile you prepare the filling. I used a 11×35 cm and 2.5 cm high pan. If your pan doesn’t have a removable bottom, put some parchment paper to remove the tart easier from the pan.
Strawberry filling preparation
To make the filling, blend the strawberries, rice syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest until smooth. To get an extra smooth texture, you can strain the strawberry blend through a sieve.
Then put the cornstarch in a small bowl and combine well with 2-3 tbsp of strawberry sauce or with water.
Add agar agar and water in a small saucepan and combine well until there are no more lumps. (I used the coconut water from the coconut cream can, that’s why it looks white in the photo below.) Then heat the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously. The liquid will start thickening. Keep stirring and check whether agar agar particles are left. Add more water if needed. It will take about 5 minutes to dissolve completely.
When agar agar is completely dissolved, add in the coconut cream and continue cooking until it melts. Stir in the cornstarch and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes, until it thickens a bit. Turn off the heat and pour in the strawberry mix. Stir until well combined.
Remove the crust from the fridge and pour over the strawberry filling. Since the crust is cold, the filling will start firming up immediately. Leave the tart into the fridge to set for 1 hour before serving.
Other vegan desert recipes
If you like this no-bake vegan strawberry tart recipe, please rate it or leave a comment below; I’d love to know your feedback. And, if you make it, you can share a photo and tag Choose Tasty either on Instagram, or on Facebook.
No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Tart | Sugar Free & Gluten Free
- 11×35 cm and 2.5 cm high tart pan
- 130 g medjool dates
- 100 g almonds
- 120 g rolled oats
- 10 g cocoa
- 45 g melted coconut oil
Strawberry filling ingredients
- 300 g strawberries
- 70 g rice syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 3 g agar agar
- 70 ml water I used water from the coconut cream can
- 190 g coconut cream
- 3 g cornstarch
- Process all crust ingredients into a high speed blender until a thick sticky paste forms; put it into the tart pan and spread into an even layer; press well on the bottom and sides; place the crust into the fridge;
- Blend strawberries, rice syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest until smooth;
- Put cornstarch in a small bowl and combine well with 2-3 tbsp of strawberry sauce or water; make sure there aren't any lumps left;
- Add agar agar and (coconut) water to a small saucepan; bring it to a boil over medium heat and stir continuously until agar agar is completely dissolved;
- Add the coconut cream to the saucepan and stir until completely melted;
- Pour in the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the sauce starts thickening; stir continuously;
- Turn off the heat and pour in the strawberry sauce; combine well;
- Remove the crust from the fridge; pour over the strawberry filling in an even layer; place the tart in the fridge for 1 hour;
- Decorate the tart with fruits as you wish and enjoy!
- Put parchment paper on the bottom of the pan if it’s not removable; thus you’ll be able to easily remove the tart from the pan.
- Be sure agar agar is completely dissolved before adding the coconut cream to the saucepan; please carefully read the information in the article above the recipe.
- The strawberry sauce should be at room temperature when you add it to the agar agar and coconut cream mixture; otherwise the filling will firm up too quickly and you won’t be able to spread it into an even layer over the crust.