I had the idea for this recipe on my mind for a few weeks now, but was holding back to try it out because sweet goods “don’t really suit my style”. Chocolate desserts, in particular, are far from being my forte. Don’t get me wrong though, I think this one is a great dessert. For chocolate fans. I mean, not the milk-chocolate-candy-bar ones, but for those who appreciate chocolate’s bitterness and more authentic flavour. Let’s say the hardcore fans.
Cardamom is one my favourite spices (followed by cinnamon) and I recently found out it pairs incredibly well with chocolate. These two, coupled together as a filling for a nutty crust, give the little tarts a lot of depth and intensity in flavour. Having said that, and even though this recipe only makes four small tarts, you’ll probably be fine, as I was, with only half of one. A couple specifics: the crust used in here is gluten-free, and because gluten-free doughs tend to be temperamental and hard to work with, you won’t need to roll it, but to press it directly into the tart shells. It won’t look as perfect as if it was rolled but, really, there’s no need to complicate things unnecessarily and only for the sake of presentation…
You might also realise this recipe doesn’t call for any sugar and for me it’s fine as is. However, your taste buds are certainly different than mine and if you find the filling too bitter, one or two tablespoons of coconut sugar or other sweetener of your choice won’t hurt. Lastly, do add the flaky salt or fleur de sel on top of the tarts – it really makes a difference, as salt is known to work as chocolate’s flavour enhancer.
Chocolate Cardamom Tarts
(makes 4 tarts, using small tart shells of 7,5 cm in diameter)
for the crust:
70 g / ½ cup chestnut flour
50 g / ½ cup hazelnut meal
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
60 ml / ¼ cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons cold water
for the filling:
6 cardamom pods, green shells removed and crushed in a mortar
and pestle into a fine powder
100 g / roughly ¾ cup 70% dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
125 ml / ½ cup coconut milk
extra coconut oil for greasing the tins
flaky sea salt or fleur de sel
Pre-heat the oven to 175º/350ª degrees.
Sift the chestnut flour, hazelnut and flaxseed meals and salt into a bowl. Add the melted coconut oil and the water, and work the mixture with your hands until you get a firm dough. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.
Using a pastry brush, grease your tart tins with extra melted coconut oil. Press one piece of dough into one of the tart shells and, working with your hands, make it evenly cover its bottom and sides. Using a fork, pinch the dough a few times. Repeat this procedure with the remaining dough and shells.
Cover the pastry shells with greaseproof paper, fill it with baking beans or pie weights and bake blind for 15 minutes. After that time, remove the beans and paper and bake the tarts for additional 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
In a small pan, heat the coconut milk with the ground cardamom until it almost starts to boil (don’t let it boil, though). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir around with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has fully melted. Let the mixture cool a bit, but not to the point of starting to set.
Divide the mixture evenly between the four tart shells. Let it set for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature. After that time, you can refrigerate the tarts for 1 additional hour if you prefer them cold (I actually ended up eating a forth of one at room temperature and enjoyed it). Unmold before serving and sprinkle with cocoa powder and flaky sea salt or fleur de sel.
On sunday afternoons, I like to give myself plenty of time to do whatever I want. Usually, that involves napping right after lunch. But yesterday, after some failed attempts at napping, I’ve decided to go to the kitchen and focus on a culinary project, one that would take some time, to keep me occupied until dinner time. And so I’ve made a tart. A delicious one. Perhaps one of the best vegan tarts I’ve ever had. Usually, savory tarts call for buttery crusts and rich custards made out of eggs and cream, but this one, not having any of those ingredients, packed a lot of flavor and didn’t fall apart at all through slicing.
For some reason, I was never happy with my attempts at making tart crusts. Usually, they would shrink a lot and get soggy after being cooked, and also had a bland and not interesting flavor. But since I’ve tried the recipe for this pie crust , I’ve never gone back: the toasted oats and the addition of sesame oil really complement each other well and give such a dense and nutty flavor to the crust. The poppy seeds (which in the original recipe, by Peter Berley, are replaced by sesame seeds) contribute for the crunchiness.
As far as the custard goes, I’m sure no one would say it doesn’t have eggs or cream in it. First, it really firms up after cooking, and as I said, it keeps its structure beautifully through slicing. On the other hand, it’s just delicious on its own: using pureed tofu as the main component of a vegan custard was referred not only in Peter’s book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen , but also in Rose Elliot’s Vegan Feasts . So my version is a bit of a mix between the suggestions given by both books (and cooks).
The counterpart of all this, is that the tart will take some time to make. There are some ideas you can put in practice to save some time for the next time you want to make it, such as, for instance, doubling the recipe for the crust and make two instead of one tart shells. All you have to do is to roll the dough and freeze it in the tart pan for one hour or two, to keep its shape, after which you can take out the pan and leave the frozen crust on the freezer for up to a month. The filling could also be doubled and frozen too. Just don’t let yourelf down by the long preparation time and the extensive list of directions for this recipe. In the end, I’m sure you won’t regret.
Broccoli and Pine Nut Tart
(makes one, 20-22 cm tart)
For the tart crust:
½ cup (45 grams) rolled oats
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (110 grams) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened soy milk
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive or sesame oil (I used the latter)
For the filling:
400 grams firm tofu
200 grams broccoli, chopped into tiny florets
2 medium-large white onions (280 grams), finely chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried chives
1/2 cup (125 ml) light stock
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mugi miso
60 grams pine nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Start with the tart crust: Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the baking soda, salt and poppy seeds to the same bowl.
3. Heat a large pan over medium heat, add the oats and toast them for 6 to 8 minutes, or until fragant and slightly brown. Stir the oats as they toast to prevent them from burning.
4. Transfer the toasted oats to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add them to the bowl with the flour and the other dry ingredients.
5. Now, add the soy milk and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough comes together.
6. Lightly brush a 20-22 cm tart pan with olive oil. Roll ou the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper, just thin enough to fit the pan. Press the pastry down into the pan and trim the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
7. To make the filling, heat a large sautee pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, minced garlic and onion, and cook for 10 minutes or until the onion is golden brown. Then, add the dried herbs (thyme, oregano and chives), and the stock, and cook, uncovered, for at least 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has almost all evaporated.
8. Crumble the tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion mixture, vinegar, and miso, and puree until smooth.
9. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, add the pine nuts, and toast them for 5 minutes or until they’re slightly brown. Give the pan a good shake every minute or so, to evenly toast the nuts.
10. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Then add the broccoli florets, and cook for no longer than 1 minute. Drain and wash the broccoli under running cold water, to stop cooking. Drain again, and set aside.
11. Mix the broccoli and pine nuts with the rest of the filling.
12. Fill the tart shell with the tofu and vegetable mixture, and level the top with the help of a rubber spatula. Place the tart into the preheated oven and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the tart has firmed up and is golden brown.
13. Let the tart cool on the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing. The tart is good eaten lukewarm or at room temperature.
recipe inspired by The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, by Peter Berley