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Vegan Keşkül (Turkish Almond Pudding)

Keşkül is a light and creamy Turkish pudding made with almond milk and ground almonds. This delicious pudding is vegan, gluten-free and takes only 15 minutes to prepare!


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I’ve been meaning to create a vegan version of this pudding ever since I saw it on a documentary about traditional ottoman cuisine. It’s so easy to make and you’ll need only a handful of ingredients, but first, let me tell you a bit about its history before we dive into how it’s made.


What is Keşkül?

Keşkül (pronouced Keshkul) is a traditional Turkish milk pudding that is made by boiling milk and sugar with ground almonds. The full name’ Fukâra Keşkülü’ translates to ‘beggar’s bowl’. During the Ottoman Empire, Keşkül was the name of the bowl that dervishes (who, for religious reasons, had taken a vows of austerity) used to beg for money or any other goods. The same bowl was also used to serve this almond pudding, which is why the pudding was named ‘Keşkül’.


Vegan Alternatives

This pudding is typically made with dairy, and some recipes also use egg yolk. I’ve created a vegan version that tastes just as good, if not better! If the right amount of corn starch is used, you can achieve the same smooth and creamy consistency without the egg yolk. As a replacement for the dairy, I like to use unroasted almond milk because it’s creamy and has a deliciously intense almond taste, which I think adds an extra depth of flavour to the pudding. You could use other plant-based milks for this recipe, but I’d suggest using a creamy plant-based milk such as cashew or soya milk.


How to Store Keşkül

This pudding is perfect for making in advance as it tastes even nicer the next day. You can prepare it a day in advance and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’re preparing the Keşkül on the day you’re going to serve it, then make sure you allow at least 2 hours for the pudding to set in the fridge.


Ingredients for Keşkül

Unroasted Almond Milk - I like to use unroasted almond milk because it has a more intense almond flavour, but you can use whichever milk you like.


Caster Sugar - I’ve used caster sugar for this recipe as it dissolves faster than granulated sugar. If you’d like to create a sugar-free version, you can substitute the sugar for a sweetener such as erythritol. Sweeteners tend to have a different level of sweetness when compared to sugar, and I find that erythritol isn’t as sweet, so you may need to add a little more of it according to your personal taste. I wouldn’t recommend you use coconut sugar or brown sugars as they will darken the colour of the pudding.


Vanilla Extract - this ingredient is optional, but I find a bit of vanilla extract goes really well in milky puddings.

Ground Almond (Almond Flour) - Ground almond can be found in most supermarkets, but if you want, you can make your own by soaking and peeling whole almonds and adding them to a food processor and chopping them until they become a flour-like texture.

Corn starch - you could use rice flour instead, but I find the rice flour gives the pudding a grainier texture, so I prefer to use corn-starch for thickening the pudding. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, make sure that the corn-starch you use has a gluten-free label as some corn-starch products are made in the same factory as nuts so there can be a risk of cross contamination.

 

Garnish

For decoration, you can add on top:

  • Pomegranate seeds

  • Almond flakes

  • Chopped pistachios

  • Edible Violas


Variations

The vanilla extract adds a subtle yet delicious depth of flavour to this pudding, but you can experiment by adding different flavours. This pudding has a neutral, creamy taste, so you can add other flavours such as rose water, cardamom or orange blossom water.


How to Make Keşkül


STEP 1:

Put the almond milk, sugar, vanilla extract and ground almonds in a medium saucepan and stir well.


STEP 2:

Place on a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continually, until the sugar dissolves.


STEP 3:

Add the corn-starch to a small bowl and combine with about 3-4 tablespoons of water. Stir until all the corn-starch lumps have dissolved, then add this mixture to the saucepan.


STEP 4:

Lower the heat, and whisk the mixture for about 10-15 minutes, until the consistency thickens slightly (it should be the same consistency as a pouring custard).


STEP 5:

Spoon the mixture into dessert glasses or ramekins and leave it to cool down for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, cover each bowl with cling film and store in the fridge. Leave the puddings in the fridge to set, for at least 2 hours. Add your garnish of choice right before serving the pudding.


Cooking Tips

  • Once you’ve added the corn-starch, make sure to lower the heat and stir continually to prevent any lumps from forming.

  • Refrigerate the puddings for at least 2 hours to make sure they set properly.

  • The consistency should resemble a pouring custard after it’s been cooked – the pudding will set after a few hours in the fridge.

  • If your pudding doesn’t thicken, you can add one more teaspoon of corn starch mixed with cold water.


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