This South African Milk Tart “Melktert” is the perfect vegan dessert made with a simple pastry crust, custard-like vanilla pudding filling, creamy coffee mousse topping, and cinnamon. My recipe is dairy-free, contains no eggs and includes easy to follow step-by-step photos + helpful tips!
Every morning I start my day with a big cup of freshly brewed coffee because to me it is one of the things that should not be missing on a perfect day! Also in the afternoon I really love to enjoy a cup of hot coffee with a piece of cake, cookies or another sweet soul food treat.
Anyway, this creamy milk tart is one of my favorite desserts because it combines anything I love! A crispy shortcrust pastry that tastes like homemade cookies with a creamy coconut custard pudding filling and a super light coffee mousse on top. So what is not to love?
Pudding or Custard?
I always struggle whether I should use the word pudding or custard in my recipes because both have a pretty similar consistency. The main difference actually lies in the preparation – While pudding typically uses starch (e.g. cornstarch) as a thickener, custard uses eggs. So custards tend to be slightly firmer than puddings but since I do not use eggs for my vegan recipes, both words would be suitable.
Anyway, I figured out that most people prefer using traditional custard as a filling for pastries because of its texture. So I decided to use booth words, custard and pudding, even if the ingredients call for the name pudding.
Which sweetener can I use?
For this recipe, you can use any sweetener you like such as coconut sugar, agave or maple syrup. You can also choose an alternative that is low in calories like erythritol but take note that the dosage may vary depending on the sweetness of your sugar substitute. I recommend checking the package instructions if your product sweetens 1:1 as regular sugar.
If you decide to use a sweetener that is darker in color it may happen that the custard filling gets darker in color, too. But even though it may look slightly different, it will not affect the taste in any way!
What makes this milk tart so special?
I have already tried many pies and cakes with pudding because they are not only so delicious but also relatively quickly made. This time, however, I did it a little differently. For my Panna Cotta Tart, I pre-baked the shortcrust pastry completely before pouring the filling into it. But for my Torta Della Nonna, I baked the dough along with the pudding.
For this milk tart, however, I prebake the dough for only 20 minutes. Then I spread the pudding onto the base and bake the tart for another 20 minutes. This way ensures that both components have the perfect consistency which so makes this vegan milk tart so incredibly delicious! To give the dessert a special kick, I also add a wonderfully creamy coffee mousse on top instead of simple whipped cream.
How to make Vegan Milk Tart
Step 1: Prepare the Tart Crust
To make the tart dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Then add the cold cubed vegan butter and the cold water and knead with your hands until the dough starts to clump together. You can also use a food processor for this step as desired. After that, transfer the dough to a working surface and continue to knead with your hands until it gets smooth.
Form the dough into a disc and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper (or cling foil). Then, transfer the flatten dough into a lightly greased 10-inch (25,5cm) tart pan. You could also use a pie or springform pan if you wish. Press the sides and the bottom firmly into the pan to create an evenly tart shell.
Now prick the bottom a few times with a fork, then place the pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up. By freezing the dough in advance, you don’t need to weigh it down. But if you want to be sure that your crust won’t shrink during baking, feel free to add pie weights. You can find the step-by-step instruction in this recipe (click here).
When the dough is firm, blind bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 20-25 minutes. For the perfect timing, I suggest starting to cook the pudding 5 minutes before the baking time ends.
Step 2: Cook the Pudding (Custard)
Add the coconut milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a measuring cup, stir together the soy milk, vanilla extract, and cornstarch to dissolve. Then whisk it into the coconut milk along with the sugar. Cook while stirring constantly until the custard is thick and creamy.
Next, mix in the vegan cream cheese until everything is creamy and well combined. Then, spread it onto the prebaked crust and smooth it out evenly.
Tip: How to get beautiful golden brown pastry crust
At this point, you can brush the edges of the pastry with a bit of non-dairy cream plus a pinch of turmeric for a shiny golden color as I did. However, this is just an optional step to make the vegan milk pudding tart a bit prettier.
Then, return your tart to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, until the crust is super crisp. Once done baking, allow to cool to room temperature and preferably refrigerate overnight until the pudding has set completely.
Step 3: Make the Coffee Mousse
To make the vegan coffee mousse start by whipping up the non-dairy cream with an electric hand mixer while slowly adding in the sugar. Then set aside.
Now add the cold coffee and the non-dairy milk to a small saucepan. Stir in the agar until it has completely dissolved. Then, bring it to a boil while stirring constantly and let simmer for about 2 minutes or according to the package instructions of your product.
Remove from the heat and stir in the non-dairy yogurt. As soon as the mixture begins to gel, carefully fold it into the whipped cream. Stir until the mixture is just well combined to prevent the whipped cream from deflating.
Tip: Coffee Mousse Dessert in Glasses
The coffee mousse also tastes great as a dessert served in glasses. When you double the specified amount in the recipe, it will yield four of these glasses.
Then immediately spread the coffee mousse onto the pudding tart and place it in the fridge. Since plant-based agar firms up sooner than regular gelatin, it takes just about 30 minutes to set.
When serving the vegan pudding tart, feel free to sprinkle on some cinnamon and use your favorite decoration! I decorated my vegan milk tart with blueberries, blackberries, shredded coconut flakes and beautiful flowers but you can really use anything you like!
This South African Vegan Milk Tart recipe is:
- Vegan (dairy-free, egg-free)
- Pretty easy to make
- Perfectly sweet
- Topped with coffee mousse
- A great alternative to cheesecake
- The perfect dessert
- Incredibly delicious!
Do you love desserts and pastries, such as creamy and sweet mousses or cakes and tarts with pudding filling? Then be sure to check out the following recipes:
- No-Bake Blackberry Mousse Tart
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- Mango Mousse Dessert
- Vanilla Custard Tart
- Mango Cheesecake Pie
- Chocolate Mousse Pie
- Summer Fruit Cream Tart
- Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie
- Vegan Panna Cotta Tart with Jelly
If you try this recipe, please leave me a comment and a rating! Your feedback is always very helpful for me and other readers. And if you take a photo of your vegan milk pudding tart and share it on Instagram, please tag me with @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka, because I love looking at your creations! Have fun baking and enjoy it!
Vegan coffee mousse Milk tart
You do not have a fitting cake pan at hand right now? Try my new Cake Pan Conversion Calculator!
- berries optional
*Please make sure to check out the step-by-step photos above!
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cold cubed vegan butter and the cold water. Knead with your hands until the dough starts to clump together (or use a food processor). Then transfer to a working surface and continue kneading until a smooth dough forms.
- Form the dough into a disc and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper (or cling foil) as shown in the step-by-step photos above. Lift the flatten dough into a lightly greased 10-inch (25,5cm) tart pan with removable base or springform pan and press the bottom and sides firmly to form an evenly tart shell.
- Prick the bottom a few times with a fork, then place the tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. (By freezing the dough in advance, you don't need to weigh it down. But if you want to be sure that your crust won’t shrink, feel free to add pie weights. You can find the instruction in this recipe).
- When the dough is firm, blind bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 20-25 minutes. Shortly before the end of the baking time, start to cook the pudding.
- Add the coconut milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a measuring cup, stir together the soy milk, vanilla extract, and cornstarch to dissolve, then whisk it into the coconut milk along with the sugar. Cook while stirring constantly until the custard is thick and creamy.
- Mix in the vegan cream cheese until creamy and combined. Then, spread it onto the prebaked crust and smooth it out evenly. (Optionally, you can now brush the edges of the pastry with a bit of non-dairy cream + pinch of turmeric for shiny golden color).
- Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, until the crust is crisp. Then allow to cool completely and place in the fridge overnight until the pudding has set.
- In a small narrow mixing bowl, whip up the non-dairy cream with an electric hand mixer, slowly adding in the sugar. Then set aside.
- To a small saucepan, add the coffee and non-dairy milk. Stir in the agar until it has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil while stirring and simmer for approx. 2 minutes (or according to the package instructions).
- Remove from the heat and stir in the non-dairy yogurt. As soon as the mixture begins to gel, carefully fold it into the whipped cream. Stir until just well combined, then immediately spread the coffee mousse onto the pudding tart and chill for about 30 minutes to set.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and decorate with fresh berries or other toppings you like. Enjoy!
- Gluten-free pie crust: you can sub a gluten-free flour blend 1:1. I suggest adding an additional flax-egg (stir 1 tbsp ground flax seeds into 3 tbsp hot water and set aside for about 5 minutes until jelly) to prevent a crumbly dough.
- Coconut milk: You can sub another rich non-dairy milk or your favorite flavored drink. If it’s sweetened, make sure to taste and adjust sweetness.
- Vegan cream cheese: You can substitute thick coconut yogurt or coconut cream.
- Agar powder: Make sure to use 100% pure agar powder that sets 2 cups (500ml) of liquid. If using flakes, you will need up to 3 times as much. You can read more information about agar in this blog post.
- The coffee mousse also tastes great as a dessert served in glasses. When you double the specified amount in the recipe, it will yield 4 glasses.
- Make-Ahead Tip: You can make the tart dough in advance, wrap in foil and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. To thaw, store overnight in the refrigerator.
- The preparation time does not include chill time.
- Please read my blog post for additional information about this recipe.
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