Almost Vegan Dark Chocolate Almond Tart

Last Wednesday, my instructor brought in silken and firm tofu for the class to experiment with. She recommended that we try out another chef’s Almond Chocolate Tart Recipe. My culinary experience with tofu preparation is for savory dishes like curries, vegetarian kebobs, and in stir fries, so this method of sweet preparation was intriguing.  It was only almost vegan because we didn’t have any carob chips, so I had to use dark-chocolate chips that most likely contained some sort of milk product. Though I trusted that the recipe would produce a good dessert, I was still a bit hesitant in putting the tart together and on top of that, I felt a little sense of pressure to do it right because for my many of my classmates, this would be their first experience with eating anything tofu.  I want to really perfect the process and change people’s minds about “weird” foods and healthy substitutions.

Almond Oat Crust

Almond Oat Crust

For the crust, in a food processor or blender, pulse together,

1 cup toasted sliced almonds (toast in a pan for about 5 minutes)

*reserve about 1 tbs of the almonds for garnish

1.5 cup Oats or whatever granola you have around

1 tbs Vegan Butter (Earthbalance)

1 tbs Maple Syrup

2 tbs Apple Juice

1/4 tsp Almond Extract

Process until a sticky mixture forms, then press crust dough into a 9-in spring form pan coated with pan release. Press into an even layer with slightly higher edges

Par-bake the crust at 350F for about 10 minutes, just till slightly brown (this is an optional step, but I liked the extra toasted flavor and it will help the crust hold together better)

For the filling, melt 3 cups chocolate/carob chip over a double boiler

mmm...Chocolate is always a good sign

mmm…Chocolate is always a good sign

In a blender, blend until smooth

3.5 cups Silken Tofu (about 1.5 of that store brought containers)

8 tbs Maple syrup

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Almond Extract

Tofu, Maple Syrup, and extracts...doesn't look tasty yet.

Tofu, Maple Syrup, and extracts…doesn’t look tasty yet.

Once those ingredients are combined, slowly pour the melted chocolate into the blender, you may have to stop in between and stir up the mixture yourself — it starts to thicken very quickly

After incorporating the chocolate

After incorporating the chocolate

Reserve 1 cup of the fully incorporated filing. Pour the rest of the mixture in the crust (I actually ended up with more filling than needed).

Smooth out the top, cover, and chill for two hours.

For decorating, take the reserved filling and scoop into a pastry bag with a star tip. Pipe decorations abound the top edge of the tart.

Garnish with whatever your heart desires — I used toasted coconuts. You can go with the reserved sliced almonds, fruits, chocolate chips, etc.

The finished Almost Vegan Tofu Chocolate Tart with Almond Oat Crust

The finished Almost Vegan Tofu Chocolate Tart with Almond Oat Crust

Chill for another 30 minutes to firm up the piping work.

Enjoy!

Other changes you can make to pump up the creatively of this treat is utilizing other extracts/flavorings like orange or raspberry. With the leftover filling, I allowed it to chill over night, scooped them into 1 tbsp balls, and rolled them into an espresso powder/cocoa powder mix – – Tofu Chocolate Truffles were born.

-A

Delicious & Nutritious Life According to my iPhone

Nutrition class. Finally. I have been looking forward to this particular course since I enrolled into culinary school and it has not ceased to challenge and excite! I have the same instructor from Traditional Euro Cuisine lab, she is by far one of my favorite instructors because not only does she offers relevant information and shares personal culinary experiences and tips, she is very open to suggestions and to allowing us to concoct and experiment with different recipe modifications.   Morning lectures center on the role macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats, and proteins — play in our dishes and how they impact our bodies. This course is not about eliminating butter, heavy cream, cheese, and bacon but about expanding food knowledge beyond the French cooking style and challenging oneself to try new flavors and products. As a vegetarian, my food knowledge has definitely increased over the past years because I have had to research and test out different plant products that would replace the nutrients I would source from animal products.  Believe it or not, there are still many products I’m just starting to learn how use and eat like bulgar, hominy, vegetables of all sorts, wheatberry, even that young jackfruit I experimented with a few weeks ago.

Simple ways to make dishes healthier:

1. Replace white, refined wheat products with whole wheat/grain products

2. Depending on the role of your sweetener — replace white sugar with honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, or splenda.

3. Steam or poach instead of boiling vegetables — the longer plant products sit in water the more the good nutrients (water-soluble vitamins/minerals) leach out.

4. Steam or poach chicken and fish — you can use the en papillote method of enclosing your desired product with parchment paper and then bake, the entrapped steam will cook your food…and your guest will be very impressed with the “complex” looking presentation.

5. Incorporate more fiber (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) into your dishes — bulks up the dish, increases a “fullness” feel without increase of calories, and supports a healthy digestive system.

6. Use low-fat products: lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes, 1% or non-fat milk, low fat sour cream, low fat yogurt, cooking spray, etc.

7. Use more spices instead of salt to pump up flavor!

The most important tip to keep in mind when deciding to modify a recipe is understanding the role a certain ingredient plays in the production and taste of the final product. For example, if you replaced all the sugar for a cookie with splenda, the result would be a sad lump of sweeten flour. That’s because sugar crystals’ structure cuts into the fat component (butter) of the cookie causing the dough to spread out as it bakes. Splenda is just a sweetener, it’s structure does not enable it to do the same.

and now…culinary life according to my iPhone

Tunisian Brown Rice Pilaf Brown rice sauteed with onions, almonds,  orange juice soaked raisins, then finished in the oven with hot vegetable stock

Tunisian Brown Rice Pilaf
Brown rice sauteed with onions, almonds, orange juice soaked raisins, then finished in the oven with hot vegetable stock

Hummus Fatoosh Salad with Grilled Pita Bread Triangles Fresh garlic chickpea hummus topped with Mediterranean tomato & cucumber salad

Hummus Fatoosh Salad with Grilled Pita Bread Triangles
Fresh garlic chickpea hummus topped with Mediterranean tomato & cucumber salad

Black Bean Hummus with Roasted Peppers Salsa served with Baked Tortilla chips

Black Bean Hummus with Roasted Peppers Salsa served with Baked Tortilla chips

Roasted Honey Glazed Sweet Potato  finished with grated Parmesan Cheese

Roasted Honey Glazed Sweet Potato finished with grated Parmesan Cheese

Korean Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Kim Chee Slaw

Korean Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Kim Chee Slaw

Quick Kim Chee Slaw -- Cabbage, grated carrots, and green scallions tossed with a ginger, garlic, sesame seed oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and crush red pepper flake marinade

Quick Kim Chee Slaw –– Cabbage, grated carrots, and green scallions tossed with a ginger, garlic, sesame seed oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and crush red pepper flake marinade

One Bowl....

One Bowl….

BROWNIES -- replaced half the sugar with agave syrup and maple syrup, replaced half the all purpose flour with wheat flour

BROWNIES — replaced half the sugar with agave syrup and maple syrup, replaced half the all purpose flour with wheat flour

Even the Baking & Pastry Majors that ate lunch with us that day were impressed by the brownies…score!

Shrimp Summer Rolls -- rice noodles, shrimp, mint leaves, basil leaves, grated carrots, and romaine lettuce wrapped in a rice paper wrapper

Shrimp Summer Rolls — rice noodles, shrimp, mint leaves, basil leaves, grated carrots, and romaine lettuce wrapped in a rice paper wrapper

Vegetarian Sushi -- avocado, cucumber, carrots, sushi rice, and seaweed paper

Vegetarian Sushi — avocado, cucumber, carrots, sushi rice, and seaweed paper

Tamarind Marinaded Grilled Tofu

Tamarind Marinaded Grilled Tofu

And a clue to my next post’s topic of interest…

An Almost Vegan Tofu Chocolate Tart with Almond Oat Crust

An Almost Vegan Tofu Chocolate Tart with Almond Oat Crust

I think I’ve managed to change some of my classmates’ mind about tofu…of course when you blend it with chocolate who could resist?

-A