Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chocolate Ganache Tiny Tarts

We try to eat meat infrequently in our home and, when we do, I strive to eat locally sourced or the wild harvested stuff.  During the week I follow a vegan regimen, both for my concerns of the sustainability of industrial farming and for my personal health.  On the weekend, I might occasionally indulge in some amazingly full-flavored aged cheese or eat some meals out that are more on the mainstream side, but I really do try and keep it vegan Monday through Friday. 

Already gluten free due to being intolerant, it might seem that it's near impossible to find foods that are nutritionally balanced, gluten free and vegan.  Not so!  I actually find myself being much more creative trying to obtain desirable textures and flavors in this realm.

These tiny tarts are the results of one such creative session.  Having to provide a dessert tonight for meeting I am attending, I wanted it to be amazing to any palate but something I could eat on a Wednesday.  These. are. it. 



2  cups pecans
2/3 cup sugar
4  tablespoons melted coconut oil*, cooled
*If you'd like to make this without a coconut flavor, use an expeller pressed variety that no longer tastes like coconut.  Using extra virgin oil makes for a subtle flavor without being overpowering. 

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons honey**
8 ounces 100% cacao baking chocolate, broken into pieces (I used 2 Ghirardelli 4 oz bars)
1 12.3 container silken tofu

**Technically speaking, honey is not considered vegan.  A true vegan might use agave nectar or brown rice syrup.  I am not a fan of agave nectar due to heavy processing and misleading health claims so I opt for raw, unprocessed, local honey that is a more natural selection. 

To make crusts:
1 - Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2 -  Run pecans and 2/3 cup of the sugar through a food processor until coarse like sand. Add melted coconut oil, with food processor motor still going, just until combined.

3 - Divide crust evenly between 30 mini muffin pan cups.  Using an object slightly smaller than the size of the muffin cups, press the dough firmly into place so that it climbs up the sides and makes walls.  I used the handle side of my citrus reamer

4 - Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is lightly toasted (be careful not to over-bake crust). Once the crust has cooled completely, make the ganache.

To make ganache:

1 - Mix sugar and water together in saucepan and heat until just dissolved.  Add in honey and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly.  Set aside.

2 - Lightly heat chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat (don’t let it boil). Add bittersweet chocolate; stir gently until mixture is thick and chocolate is melted.  In a steady stream, pour in sugar and honey syrup while whisking into the chocolate.

3 - When chocolate is smooth, add to the bowl of a food processor, along with the silken tofu.  Run until combined and creamy with no remaining traces of tofu showing.  Immediately spoon or pipe into shells and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Notes: To make into a single 10-12" full-sized tart, increase crust ingredients as follows; 3 cups pecans, 1 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons coconut oil.

Chocolate matters!  This is the star of this dish so use good quality stuff :) 

Optional Toppings:  You could top each with a dollop of whipped coconut milk fat solids or a piece of fruit.  Or nothing, I am telling you, these are so rich that they'll fool even the most carnivorous of your friends!

Recipe makes 30 decadent, gluten free, vegan servings. Per serving:

nutrition facts