Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Smokey Mocha Tarts (Vegan and Gluten Free)

First of all, ta-daa!
...and boo-yeah!

...and yummilicious!

Now for the story...

I generally gravitate more toward the savory than the sweet, but lately I just can't get the thought of fluffy cakes and decadent tarts off my mind. Perhaps it's because my birthday is next week and I've got a serious case of cake on the brain (I’m pretty sure that’s an actual medical term). Or, perhaps it's because I haven't baked anything sweet in ages. Either way, I pulled out all the stops with these bad boys!

I'm fortunate because I'm not sensitive to gluten or dairy but I'm a cook down to my bones, so I have a need to feed others and this means that I want everyone to be able to enjoy my food, hence this vegan and gluten free creation!

The inspiration for this recipe came from two recent discoveries I made!

First, I came across this recipe for a Gluten Free Flour Blend on the lovely blog, Oh Ladycakes. It looked different from what I'd seen before, and all of her photos and recipes look amazing, so I figured it was worth a try. I am so pleased with the results. The crust I made with it came out amazingly light, crisp, flaky and tasty. 

Second, last fall I went to Portland Oregon (loved it!) and bought a bunch of specialty salts at a wonderful store called The Spice and Tea Exchange. One of them is an Applewood Smoked Sea Salt that I thought would taste great along with some dark chocolate. It did!

Note: If you haven't read it yet, check out the book Salt: A Wold History by Mark Kurlansky. It's incredibly interesting. For example, did you know that towns in England with the suffix -wich produced salt back in the day? Interesting stuff!

Anyhow, with no further ado, here are the recipes. There are a lot of components but everything is easy overall and you must try the coconut whipped cream (another Oh Ladycakes inspired recipe). Don't argue with me here. I swear, it's so good I may never make regular whipped cream again! 

Summary for Smokey Mocha Tarts 
Fill the cooled tart crusts with the room temperature/slightly firmed ganache and top with whipped coconut cream and a pinch of ground smoked sea salt. It's delicious eaten right away but I liked it even better after it had chilled for a few hours!

Note: I made some tiny tartlets the next day (the photos are at the very end of this post) and the dough was even flakier, sooooo, chill the dough overnight for best results.

All components/recipes listed below.

Gluten Free Flour Blend
Recipe from Oh Ladycakes
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2 1/2 cups white rice flour
2 cups sweet rice flour
2 cups arrowroot starch

Combine well with a whisk and store in a cool, dry place.

Note: When using the gf flour blend for recipes, add in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum per every cup you use. Don't add the xanthan gum to the main batch of flour blend itself, however.

Smokey Sweet Tart Crust
1 heaping cup (about 5 oz.) gluten free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 ounces of cold vegan butter
1 Tablespoon organic coconut oil
3 Tablespoons cold water
1 heaping Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt

Add everything to a food processor except for the water. Pulse until you get a crumbly mixture then add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing to combine. Turn the dough out, pat it together and chill it for 20 minutes or overnight for even flakier results.

Preheat your oven to 410 F. Grease and flour (with vegan butter and the gluten free flour blend) the tart pans. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. 

Note: Chilling it in this case doesn't relax the gluten, because there is none, rather it allows the dough hydrate and firm up, which makes it both flakier and easier to work with.

If you are using small 4" tart pans like I did. Roll up a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and flatten with your palm (to about 1/8 inch thickness) onto a piece of wax paper or whatever your wrapped the dough in to chill it. Tip the wax paper up and transfer the flattened dough to the tart pan, pressing it in evenly. Repeat until all your tarts pans are filled. This recipe makes enough for one 9" tart or about ten 4" tartlets.

Dock the dough with a fork and place the tartlets on a sheet pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Wait for them to cool before adding the ganache.

Smokey Bittersweet Ganache
7 oz. dark bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon vegan butter (optional)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt 
1 cup strong hot coffee

Roughly chop the chocolate and toss it with the cornstarch, vanilla, vegan butter and smoked sea salt. Add one cup of the very hot, strong, freshly brewed coffee and stir until everything is melted and combined. Set aside to cool and firm up before adding to the cooled tart shells. Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe below) and smoked sea salt!

Whipped Coconut Cream
Adapted from Oh Ladycakes
1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (I used Thai Garden Organic)
1 Tablespoon confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scoop all of the thick, white coconut fat out of the can. Add about 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut liquid and store the rest to use later. Whip the coconut fat and liquid, powdered sugar and vanilla on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. If you don't use all of the whipped coconut cream right away, store it in the fridge (and try not to constantly steal spoonfuls). 

Note: If you whip up the entire contents of the can all at once, you'll get a lovely 'soft plop' cream that's just a smidgen sweet and maintains it's form fairly well in the refrigerator. Experiment with how much coconut water you add until you get the consistency you like best.

Next Day Mini Tartlets.....Flatten the dough with your palm and cut it into any shape you like with a cookie cutter. The dough is delicate, so a very intricate design may prove difficult. Bake in muffin tins at 410F. until golden. About 10 minutes. Fill as desired!