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 Post subject: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:45 pm 
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anytime i make a non-baked dessert that needs to thicken and set up it never seems to set correctly. it always seems to be pudding like instead of nicely set.

it's happened for several desserts but specifically yesterday i made the flourless chocolate tart from Vegan Table and it says to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. the thickener it calls for is cornstarch or kudzu. i used corn starch.

i took it out of the fridge after 4 hours and it was very puddingy. the next morning it was set more but still not set 100%.

i feel like im missing something technical like it needs to cook longer with the thickener so it thickens more on the stove or something.

does anyone have luck with any particular thickener? ive used cornstarch, arrowroot, and agar agar. i usuually just follow the recipe im using exactly.

any tipa?

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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:53 pm 
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I haven't tried that recipe, but in general I'd try cooking things longer (since it's happening to you across the board).

This is probably not an issue and I'm not even sure if it's a real thing, but my mom always said to make sure you don't dip a spoon you've tasted off of back into things like this (ew) because the saliva will break it down/keep it from setting up (double ew).


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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:10 pm 
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There are a lot of thickeners that require boiling before they really work. So you might need to heat things higher or cook them longer at a boil.


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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:11 pm 
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I think cornstarch is always going to be a little more pudding-y, but I think agar should be more firm, depending on the amount. Arrowroot is similar to cornstarch but can be a little more runny. I haven't made that particular recipe, but when I have used some thickeners in the past I have occasionally had a problem with not cooking long enough. If that's the case you wouldn't notice as much of a change in consistency while it is cooking (the liquid should thicken and appear more glossy) and you might be able to detect the uncooked cornstarch in the finished product (a slight chalky flavor/texture). I've noticed that some recipe are way off in the cooking times -- or perhaps my electric stovetop is just kind of slow to heat. Often I have to cook things much longer to get them to slightly bubble and thicken as they should.


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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:29 am 
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I agree with Beanitarian. In my experience, desserts made with cornstarch don't get firmer after spending time in the fridge, so one has to get them as thick as possible while heating them, and agar could be used for firmer results.

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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 12:35 pm 
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thanks everyone.
seems like i need to let things thicken on the stove longer. since i am never sure how thick it's supposed to be when cooking i just wait the allotted amount of time the recipe says and then im done but it seems like it's not long enough.

the recipes that ive used i dont think ever have you bring things to a full boil so maybe i can try bringing things to a low boil.

when i made the tart the other day after the 10 minutes cooking time i was like "well it is technically thicker....." but it wasnt much thicker.

do you think arrowroot would work in a similar way as cornstarch in the sense that it probably wont set up more in the fridge?

Ive only used agar powder in recipes that actually call for it and am nervous to straight sub it for cornstarch plus i only have a little bit and it's really hard for me to find. cornstarch or arrowroot is soooo much easier for me to use.

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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:19 pm 
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With cornstarch, things definitely need to be bubbling to get the full thickening effect. I'm sure you can find a more precise description of this somewhere, but with cornstarch I definitely cook things until I start to see some small bubbles coming up and the mixture seems to change from a liquid to a gel-like consistency. It doesn't need a full boil, but it does require some bubbling to thicken in my experience.

Arrowroot is similar except that it doesn't need as high of a temperature for as long. Some recipes will call for just adding the arrowroot after removing a hot boiling or nearly boiling liquid from the stove. You will definitely notice the mixture get glossy and thick.

I agree that you could probably try cooking for longer or at a higher temperature. I would favor that over changing the thickener, as that will probably affect the texture.


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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 5:56 pm 
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I'm going to go against the flow and say if you want a firmer set you should add more cornstarch (as well as cooking it until it's started to really thicken up). If you add enough cornstarch you can make something with a very firm texture indeed.

ETA: Are you definitely using tablespoons and not teaspoons? I've just had a look at that recipe and with that amount of chocolate it looks to me like it should set up okay, but there's no harm in adding an extra tablespoon of cornstarch.

I wouldn't melt the chocolate first, as in the instructions. I'd add the starch into the milk and heat it until it was thickened, then I'd just put the chocolate straight into that. One less dirty dish!

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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:03 pm 
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dropscone wrote:
I'm going to go against the flow and say if you want a firmer set you should add more cornstarch (as well as cooking it until it's started to really thicken up). If you add enough cornstarch you can make something with a very firm texture indeed.

Yup, that's what I would try too, in addition to cooking at a higher temperature. I also feel that cornstarch does set up more if you refrigerate it, so don;t be discouraged if it still seems too liquid right after cooking.

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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:45 pm 
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Tapioca starch is another option. It thickens quickly and at a lower temperature than cornstarch. It also isn't affected by acid. You can substitute 1:1.

Did the recipe call for a lot of cocoa powder? If you used natural cocoa (as opposed to Dutch process), the acidity may have interfered with the cornstarch's gelling ability. That's within the realm of possibilities but temp and timing are more likely culprits.


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 Post subject: Re: getting vegan desserts to set up properly
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:44 pm 
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I also agree with trying out cooking cornstarch based things a bit longer. I know that when I make tembleque (just coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar, and vanilla) I stand there stirring it and bored out of my mind for what feels like forever.

Then, all of a sudden it thickens up at a rapid pace!


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