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Egg and Gelatine Replacements

Asked by bhavnamehrotra. Answered on 30th January 2012

Full question

Hi, I was wondering if you could suggest a replacement for eggs in desserts (my mother doesn't eat eggs) and also one for gelatine? Thank you!

Our answer

Unfortunately it is fairly difficult to replace eggs in some desserts as the whites are usually whisked to help introduce a fluffy texture to a dessert and the yolks add richness and sometimes are also used to set some desserts. The exception would be custard as cornflour (or custard powder, if it is available) can be used to thicken milk and cream mixtures instead of eggs. As a rough guide you need 2 tablespoons of cornflour to 500ml/2 cups milk. Use 2 tablespoons of the milk to mix with the cornflour to make a paste then whisk this into the milk. Put the milk into a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil slowly, whisking constantly. The custard should thicken as it boils and you can then take it off the heat and whisk in sugar to taste plus vanilla and other flavourings such as chocolate. Cream can be whisked to peaks and so can be folded in to lighten some desserts but it really depends on specific recipes and won't work if the dessert is to be cooked.

Agar agar is a vegetarian replacement for gelatine and is made from Japanese red seaweed. Unfortunately the way you add it to a recipe differs from gelatine so you would need to adapt the method of your recipe accordingly. Gelatine is destroyed by boiling whereas agar agar needs boiling to activate it. Agar agar also tends to stay solid at much higher temperatures than gelatine so the desserts you set are likely to be firmer to eat then those set with gelatine. Agar agar is often sold in flakes or as a powder and roughly 2g (about 2 teaspoons flakes) will set 500ml/2 cups liquid - though we suggest you read and follow the package instructions carefully. The agar agar needs to be soaked in cold water first then slowly brought up to a boil and simmered for about 5 mnutes, until slightly thickened. It can then be added to your recipe.

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