Today’s Vegan MoFo prompt is “Most retro recipe”. When I think of retro, I think of jello. Lots of jello. Little hot dog weenies in jello, marshmallows in jello, jello with whipped cream and pineapples and olives. (Yuckity, yuck, yuck). However, as you may know, jello is not vegan. This popular wobbly foodstuff is made of gelatin, which is derived from the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals, such as cows, chickens, and pigs.
As a vegetarian, I do not consume jello either. Therefore, it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve had any of this fun flubbery madness. After learning about agar from the ever-wondrous Amy Chaplin, I figured the latter could make a good jello substitute.
It turns out that *ding ding ding* I was correct.
So what is agar? Agar is a flavorless seaweed that gels. It is often used as a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, and to make desserts in Japan (such as kanten). It can also be used in the biology lab as a growth medium. Pretty wild, huh? Agar comes in two forms: powder and flakes. I chose to purchase the powder for a few different reasons: 1) It is easier to cook with, as the powder dissolves quickly, and 2) it is significantly cheaper than the flakes. I purchased mine on Amazon. If you are interested in the flakes, you can find them at Whole Foods with the other seaweeds. The flakes may be more desirable to you because they are produced by Eden Foods, which is a highly trusted brand.
This vegan cherry jello is cooling and tangy dessert for warm nights, excellent with a dollop of almond cream. I wouldn’t say that it has the exact texture of jello. It has a slightly rougher texture because I used whole cherries instead of cherry juice. If you would like a smoother texture, I recommend opting for cherry juice (perhaps 1 3/4 cups?).
As I have mentioned in earlier MoFo posts, I am focusing on Half-Marathon Training Fuel in my recipes. Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and their ability to enhance endurance training. [Even though the studies revolve around cherry juice, I’m sure whole cherries are also beneficial 🙂 ] Enjoy!
Vegan Cherry “Jello”
- 2 1/4 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries, thawed if frozen
- 6 tbsp + 1/2 cup apple juice, divided
- 2 tsp agave or mild maple syrup
- 2 tsp agar powder
- Blend the cherries, 6 tbsp apple juice, and 2 tsp agave in a blender. Pour into a large bowl.
- Put the remaining 1/2 cup of apple juice and agar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and place the lid on. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the agar mixture to the cherry puree. Stir to incorporate. Quickly pour the mixture into two small cups or bowls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.
- If desired, top each jello with almond cream (2 tbsp almond butter, 1 tbsp water, 1 tsp maple syrup for two servings).