Really, I don't own stock in an agar producing company, but if I could I would. Not only do I think it's great for weight loss and making you feel full (as I discussed in the Almond Mascarpone post) it supports so many culinary tricks, particularly those in the dessert making/ sculptural vein.
I love to use coconut milk whipped cream to decorate. It is thicker and richer than regular whip cream (with better nutritional stats), holds its form and doesn't deflate. It's essentially a whipped cream - icing hybrid— is there a more delicious concept in the dessert world?
The process is the same as the almond mascarpone, except for with coconut milk. I also follow the same process with Cashew milk to make what I call "cashew cream."
Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
42 Oz. light coconut milk*
1.5 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. agar powder (or equivalent agar flakes, read package for instructions)
Agave, sugar (recommended if you are using it to garnish a dessert) or stevia to taste
Whisk the coconut milk, cornstarch and agar powder together at room temperature in large saucepan until well combined and cornstarch is dissolved. If you are using sugar add it at this time too. Coconut milk has a natural sweetness to it so you probably won't need more than 1/4 cup.
Bring to a boil whisking frequently (this is so the bottom won't burn) and then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. It's important to bring the mixture to a boil to activate the gelling properties of the agave but allow it to boil or simmer for too long and the gelling properties will deteriorate.
Remove from heat. If you are using agave, add it when the mixture has cooled slightly (the point where you can just touch it comfortably, 3-4 Tbs. should be good for a light sweetness). Allow the mixture to cool until sticking it in the fridge won't warm your refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. You will have a jello/ tofu like substance. Do not despair. Break apart the jellowish brick and put it in a blender or vita-mixer or stick an immersion blender right into the bowl of coconut jello. This will turn the jellowy substance into a luscious whipped cream. If you are using this to top fruit or like a yogurt for breakfast or a snack, a packet of powdered stevia per cup should do the trick.
Makes approx. 4 cups, at approximately 160 kCal/ cup (when using light coconut milk and stevia)
*Use regular coconut milk for a richer whipped cream. "Light" coconut milk is actually water + regular coconut milk (check the ingredients if you don't believe me, the first ingredient is water). Do your wallet and the environment a favor and buy regular coconut milk (check to ensure the only ingredient listed is coconut milk). 2 parts water to 1 cup coconut milk produces a typical "light" coconut milk. So, for every container of pure coconut milk, add two containers of purified water. Also, use real coconut milk, not the odd coconut milk beverage that has appeared in the dairy case at Whole Foods recently. I've never used it in this recipe but bought it and found it disgusting; then I looked at the ingredients and realized it was full of processed crap so I'm confident it would perform horribly in this recipe.
Follow above recipe for Coconut Milk Whipped cream. But make it with cashew milk. I use the Elana's Pantry Recipe for Cashew Milk except that I use 5 1/2 cups of water instead of 4.
The Side by Side: Almond Mascarpone and Coconut Whipped Cream.
Note for your dessert making/ designing needs that the Almond Mascarpone has a bisque color and a firmer texture (similar to, obviously, Mascarpone).
And the Coconut Whipped has a much whiter color and fluffier texture.
Yes— As you can see by my example pictures, I made a lot of lemon tarts for parties this summer. I will try to post a picture of cashew cream soon (It's color and texture is probably the perfect midway point between the almond mascarpone and coconut milk whipped cream).
Finally, I couldn't find the Wall Street Journal article discussing agar despite my best googling efforts. But, in my search, I did find another blog discussing the WSJ article and one woman's experience using it to lose weight: Chic & Slim article on agar for weight loss.