Vegan Key Lime Pie: It ain't easy being green

Kudzu powder? Agar flakes? Florida crystals?

Clearly vegan orthodoxy is not for the ill-informed.

The substances mentioned above are in the ingredient list for the Key Lime Tart in The Artful Vegan: Fresh Flavors from The Millennium Restaurant, which, for whatever reason, I had to make Saturday. Sourcing these exotics required a trip to the Asian market, where agar powder--the de facto vegan substitute for gelatin--was to be had for $2 instead of $8 at the neighborhood granola emporium. If for any reason you need agar flakes or powder, know that you can use 1 TBS of flakes to every 1/2 tsp of powder and vice versa. Aren't you glad you know that?

Kudzu powder (yes, from the weed) is a general thickener that stands up to citrus better than cornstarch. I used cornstarch. And Florida crystals? Well, apparently in the final processing of sugar cane, the sugar is submitted to filtering through charcoal, which may be of animal (bone), vegetable or mineral origin. I dug a cup out of the lifetime supply of organic sugar we had on hand from Costco.

I don't feel comfortable posting the recipe, housed as it is in the lovely aforementioned volume. Suffice it to say there were many steps that involved the gelling and setting up of soft tofu and avocado. The whirring and blending of gelatinous masses. The grinding of pistachios. The wringing of hands when the white chocolate mousse failed epically. And the happy consuming of the finished product, which tasted "much like a key lime pie."

That's "vegan" for "not-as-good-as-the-real-thing-but-delicious-in-its-own-way."

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