Kantens are really refreshing desserts that are easy as can be. They are also genuinely good for you, which cannot be said about most desserts. A kanten is a jelled dessert that is made with fruit and agar. Agar is a sea vegetable that comes in the form of clear flakes. Like gelatin, they can be dissolved into fruit juice and then it hardens as it cools. Agar, like other sea vegetables, has a high mineral content and has detoxifying powers. According to my Clean Foods cookbook, agar has a cooling and calming effect on the gastrointestinal tract, making it a perfect food to eat after a big meal. Agar is incredibly versatile because it is colorless and tasteless, so it can be added to any kind of juice/fruit combination. Had I added strawberries or raspberries to this dessert, it would have been perfect for the 4th of July.
This recipe was adapted from Clean Foods, a vegan and macrobiotic cookbook by Terry Walters. The original recipe asks for frozen blueberries, but I used fresh. It also instructs you to puree the entire kanten after it hardens to create a mousse-like dessert, but I wanted to keep mine in its hard form. Instead of serving it in parfait glasses, I poured the whole mixture into a 9x13 baking dish then cut it into squares. However, if I had parfait glasses, I think that would be a beautiful way to present it whether as a solid dessert with berries intact or as a mousse. The 1 tablespoon agar to 1 cup of juice is standard, so you can use that ratio to create a dessert with any combination of juice and fruit: grape juice and grapes, apple juice and watermelon, or peach berries. I've even made a vegan lemon pie by basically making a sweet lemon juice kanten and letting it firm up in a precooked pie crust. This kanten serves 6-8 and it keeps for a few days covered in the fridge.
3 cups apple or pear juice
3 tablespoons agar flakes
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring juice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in agar flakes, salt, and lemon juice or cider vinegar. Continue stirring until flakes have dissolved. Remove from heat, add blueberries and transfer to 9x13-inch glass casserole dish. Refrigerate until firm (about 45 minutes). Optional: Remove from refrigerator and puree with handheld blender until texture is smooth.
2 cups apple juice
2 cups lightly toasted cashews
3 tablespoons maple syrup
In small pot over medium-high heat, bring apple juice to boil. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place cashews and syrup in food processor and process 10-15 seconds. Whith the processor running, slowly add juice a little at a time until you have the desired texture (you may not need all the juice. I only used about 1.5 cups. Also, it firms up as it cools).