Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote

Desserts, Recipes

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // nutritionstripped.comWhenever I think of custard, I think of really heavy, dairy-laden, high fat desserts found in Italian restaurants; although most of that is true, today I’m here to shine a new light on the word custard by sharing an incredibly healthy vegan spin on this classic custard dessert. Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote is not only is a great vegan alternative to traditional custards, it’s perfect for the warmer months of the year utilizing fresh product in season such as strawberries and refreshing lemons.

I adore using fresh fruits and citrus in spring and summer recipes because it brings  a certain light, airy, and refreshing feel to the meal. Especially with desserts, sometimes it’s nice to have something a little on the lighter side with flavor and digestibility (I mean hey, we all need to look great in our shorts and dresses this summer right?). This Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote gives you the best of both worlds, light on digestion, refreshing and bright flavors of spring, but with a feel of decadence from the silky custard.

What’s so special about this custard? I want to chime in here and say this isn’t your ordinary custard (yes, not just because it’s vegan), it’s double layered with a thick, creamy raw cashew cream and topped with a sweet strawberry compote. It’s incredibly delicious, but also has some nutrition to offer- would you really expect anything less from me? Before I get a lot of comments about the nutrition information being calorically dense, here’s my response: I’d much rather be eating a decadent dessert from whole real plant-based foods than focus solely on the quantity/calories of it. It’s okay to indulge every now and then my friends- do so with quality food and don’t be afraid of calories! This dessert is loaded with healthy fats from both the cashews used in the top layer and also the coconut milk used in the bottom layer. I adore coconut oil and all the amazing good saturated fats in coconuts, which are majorly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (check here to read more about the awesomeness that is coconut!). Another reason why I’m lovin’ this recipe is the use of lemons! Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and great for adding a freshness to any recipe.

The strawberry compote is a wonderful way to add a different texture and flavor from the lemon custard portion. Even though national strawberry month officially doesn’t begin until May, I can’t wait! Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits and this recipe screams spring and summer to me, therefore I wanted to get a jump start and get you all inspired and ready for a beautiful spring and summer ahead. This dessert is so perfect to bring on a romantic picnic date at the park, to enjoy on the patio, bring to a friends grill out, or simply enjoy on a night in.

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote //

This was such an amazing recipe to test out and photograph! In our new home we have a fantastic front room lined from floor to ceiling with windows, an entire wall dedicated to drawing in the most beautiful light from morning to night, which also gives me the chance to tease the light away from or on to my prop table while shooting. I have so much fun in the kitchen and in my studio room that it’s been a process of retraining my photography skills and playing with the newfound light. Not just relearning some things with lighting, but also there’s the fun aspect of decorating my new studio/office room- I know I’m obsessed with interior design aren’t I?

Note: I typically have extra Cashew Cream (recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups) and Strawberry Compote (recipe makes about 1 cup) left from this recipe. I love using the cashew cream for a dip with fresh fruit and the strawberry compote on things like my Simply Oat Pancakes or other warm porridges. 

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote //

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6+
A thick and creamy vegan custard with hints of lemon and topped with a strawberry compote.
  • 16 ounces coconut milk
  • 8 ounces almond milk
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • TOP LAYER //
  • 1 cup cashews, raw and soaked for at least 4 hours
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts, raw and soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 dates, pitted (or use ¼ cup maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • juice of 2 meyer lemons (or 1 large lemon, adjust to taste)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups strawberries, frozen
  • ½ cup strawberries, fresh and sliced in half (for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seed, ground
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon extract
  1. First, have cashews and macadamia nuts soaking during prep and chill time for the custard.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine all "bottom layer" ingredients and whisk together until it is smooth.
  4. Stir over medium heat and stir constantly until it begins to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until it thickens (this happens quickly if you're not on low heat so be careful!).
  6. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Using the serving dishes you're going to serve this custard in, pour the mixture evenly (I like using 2 ramekins).
  8. Leave about 1 inch at the top of the ramekin for the top layer.
  9. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours or until set well.
  10. In the meantime, work on the next two layers.
  11. TOP LAYER //
  12. Blend all ingredients in the "top layer" ingredients in a high speed blender or processor until thick and smooth. Use your taste buds and adjust the lemon or vanilla seasonings to make sure it's your desired sweetness.
  14. Bring strawberries to a simmer, the frozen strawberries will give off water and this will allow the mixture to reduce.
  15. Add ground chia seeds and stir until everything is combined, simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  16. At this point, you can blend to make completely smooth or leave it with some chunks (I prefer it this way).
  17. Lastly, add in lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  18. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until thick and set.
  19. ASSEMBLY //
  20. Take the custard ramekin, layer 1-2 tablespoons of the cashew cream, then finish by pouring the strawberry compote on top. Use as much as you wish- like I say in the notes, you'll have more cashew cream and strawberry compote left over.
  21. Enjoy!
Nutrition information just for custard (sans cashew cream and strawberry compote)
Caloric content will vary depending on if you use the entire batch of both cashew cream layer and strawberry compote layer.
LOWER FAT // use light coconut milk, I used full fat
LOWER SUGAR // use stevia to sweeten cashew cream, not dates. Use less maple syrup to sweeten custard
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th custard recipe Calories: 215 Fat: 14 Carbohydrates: 20 Protein: 2


Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote //

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote //

TIPS // this recipe is best served chilled or out of the fridge, but some enjoy it at room temperature. Just a note, since this custard is special and has an extra topping of raw cashew cream, I really love eating this at room temperature so that you get the full flavors of the cashews and custard in combination with the compote. If you prefer to enjoy it chilled, trust me… it’s just as good!

Also, this can definitely be made ahead of time, especially if you’re making it for a date, a party, gathering, etc., just be sure to wrap it with cling wrap tightly and store the strawberry compote individually, place the compote on top before serving.

Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote // Double Layer Lemon Custard with Strawberry Compote //

I hope you all love this custard and give it a try! I’ve been enthralled with all of the emails and kind words from all of you lately on the blog upgrades and just sharing your support in general- it truly brightens my day and makes all this hard work 150% worth it 🙂

xx McKel

Share your thoughts

  • I have never tried making custard before, for fear of the ingredients and fat, but this recipe seems divine! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Wow this looks amazing! Love the colours and flavours here, strawberries and lemon is such a wonderful combination. I am super inspired by this recipe and the photography, I only wish I had enough space and light at home to make photos like this!

  • I have never made a custard like this before but all these ingredients sound so delicious and the custard must be fantastic! Can’t wait to give this a try and enjoy it myself! + Love your photography!

    • I really hope you enjoy it, it’s amazing and one of my favorite desserts I’ve made thus far! xx mh (thank you for the kind words on my photography as well!)

  • Meg

    Looks delicious! I’m allergic to cashews & tree nuts though – I see cashew puree in a lot of your recipes and am wondering if you know of a subsitute for sweet recipes? I am assuming the cashew puree flavor is very mild as it seems to lend itself to both sweet and savory.

    No worries if you don’t know offhand, it’s a fairly specific question.

    Love your site!

  • A vegan spin on custard? Brilliant! Thanks for creating something like this. Going to bookmark and try 🙂

  • Linda

    This looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it! If I can’t find lemon extract could I use lemon juice instead?
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Linda,
      Yes, you can use lemon juice- just wait until it’s off the heat to add it into the custard and you may want to use a little bit more zest to drive the lemon flavor home 😉

  • I’m officially drooling…. looks fantastic! 🙂

  • I made this today for a brunch with friends. It was so delicious and loved by all! I didn’t have macadamia nuts so I just used cashews and it was great. Thanks for the recipe!! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you and your friends/family enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing and your continued support xx mh

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  • Cristin

    Hi McKel! Can I use arrowroot in place of cornstarch here? Thanks!


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