Bittersweet

This is a tart special for plenty of reasons, the greatest being that it encompasses two of my “firsts”. The crust is the first gluten free crust I have ever attempted, and thank God, it turned out quite pleasantly. The second first (oxymoron there!) is the chocolate silk filling, which is absolutely, undeniably, and impossibly to die for.

That being said, there are many foods that we do, with or without knowing it, kill ourselves eating. With minimal investigation, our eyes become opened to the fatal consequences of red meat, butter, wheat, dairy, refined sugars…the list goes on, but one thing to rejoice about is this: this tart has nothing to do with that list.

The chocolate custard, is cunningly not a custard at all. Not only does it not contain any cream (and also no dairy), it doesn’t use milk or fat substitutes to fill the “void”. Nor does it contain any eggs, so lacto-, ovo-intolerant friends, to that, you may do a happy dance. And of course you won’t find any refined sugars in this, either.

One thing to know about me: I dislike falsehood. So naturally, I don’t use certain ingredients to replace or pretend to be something they’re not. Every ingredient exists perfectly as itself; almond milk should taste like almonds, it’s not fair to treat it as if it should taste like moo’s milk. If you really want moo’s milk, by all means, just have less of it.

On that note, I present you a slice of wholesome indulgence.

tart

Ingredients for the tart crust:

125g rice flour

125g brown rice flour

70g melted coconut oil

60g almond, rice, or soy milk

60g agave nectar

To make the tart crust, pulse together the flours in a food processor. With the motor running, gradually add in the coconut oil until the mixture becomes sandy. Scrape down the sides, then add the almond milk and agave nectar. Pulse until a crumbly dough comes together. Press this mixture into a non-stick 9-inch fluted tart pan. Chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Dock the crust with a fork, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fragrant and golden. Cool completely, then chill until needed.

Ingredients for the chocolate custard:

half a cinnamon stick

800g medium firm tofu, cut into four bricks

1 packet gelatin, soaked in water

100g agave nectar

scant 1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa

30g unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

15g vanilla extract

To make the chocolate custard, put the cinnamon stick and half a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add the tofu and poach it in the infused water for 12 minutes. Remove the tofu with a slotted spoon and drain, sandwiched between two clean towels and beneath a heavy plate.

Meanwhile, tip out the poaching liquid until about 2 cups remain. Add the soaked gelatin and agave nectar and simmer, whisking constantly, until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Set aside.

Break up the drained tofu into a food processor or blender, add the cocoa and chopped chocolate. Blend on high speed until impossibly smooth. With the motor running, gradually add the gelatin mixture until blended, then add the vanilla. Pour this mixture into the chilled crust and refrigerate until set.

Serve well chilled, garnished with bruleed banana slices or chopped salted nuts (I used pecans and almonds).

The chocolate custard recipe makes enough that you don’t have to use all of it for the tart. I recommend pouring any extra custard into a couple of espresso cups or small ramequins to make petit pots de cremes, simply because that’s what I did. Chill until set, covered with plastic wrap, and serve fresh from the fridge.

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