I know, I know, that’s a terrible title, but what else could I call it? It has a raw nut-and-fruit crust, heavy on the pistachios and the apricots, it has a vegan chocolate mousse filling, with more apricot jam to give it a bit of a lift, and the whole thing is rich, rich rich.
But (mostly) good for you!
I mean, think about it – the nuts and dried fruit are full of protein and vitamins and iron. The bitter, dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants and happiness. The tofu has more protein and is undoubtedly healthy in other ways that I’ve forgotten. It’s practically a tonic! You should eat it for breakfast!
OK, maybe that’s taking it too far, but I am ridiculously proud of this tart. You see, it was my turn to bring cake to our monthly admin meeting this week, and, as you might possibly have intuited, it has been fiendishly hot around here. I really couldn’t face baking anything, but I couldn’t do something sensible like cheesecake, because my admin group also includes a couple of people who can’t eat lactose or gluten. At this point, a sane person would have given up and gone and bought something for the meeting, but, as we have previously established, I’m not a sane person, at least when it comes to food.
So I crossed a chocolate mousse recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World with a whole lot of different raw truffle and raw cheesecake recipes from people like Hannah at Wayfaring Chocolate and Kiri at Bite Sized Thoughts, and came up with this – a decadent dessert that takes less than an hour to make. It may be more like half an hour if one is organised and not wandering around the kitchen foraging for likely ingredients.
Incidentally, it tastes amazing…
Your shopping list:1/2 cup cashews 1 cup pistachios (plus a handful more to garnish) 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup pumpkin seed meal, or ground pistachios, or almond meal 1 cup fresh dates, pits removed 1/2 cup dried apricots (plus a handful more to garnish) 20 ml maple syrup, plus 60 ml for the filling 750 g tofu (a firm one with a fairly silky texture would be good here) 125 ml orange juice 60 ml apricot jam 5 ml orange flower water 650 g dark, dark chocolate, oh yeah.
Now what will you do with it?
Put the cashews, pistachios and walnuts in the food processor and blitz until fairly finely ground. Add the pumpkin seed meal, dates and apricots and continue to process until the mixture starts thinking about clumping together. Add the maple syrup and continue until the mixture really is starting to form into clumps a bit. You may need to add more nuts if it’s too wet, or more dates if it’s too dry.
Tip the mixture out into a loose bottomed tart tin (some phrases are really best left un-commented on, aren’t they?) – I think mine has a base of around 23cm; it’s a standard size, anyway, and press it all over the bottom and up the sides as evenly as possible. Refrigerate so that it can firm up a bit.
Make the mousse. Put all the remaining ingredients except the chocolate in a blender and blend until smooth. (Don’t forget the maple syrup, which was higher up the list.)
Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt until very liquid – I do this in the microwave in one minute bursts at 50%, stirring in between, and I give it an extra thirty seconds or so after the last chunks have dissolved. The reason for this is that the tofu mixture is thick and fairly cold and the chocolate will try to set the moment it claps eyes on it.
If you have a large and very heavy-duty blender, pour in the melted chocolate, and blend until everything is combined. If your blender is a bit wimpy, don’t do it – all you will do is make yourself sad, and chocolate should never make you sad. Instead, you should tip the contents of the blender into the bowl with the chocolate, and fold in as fast as you can with a spatula.
Tip about 2/3 to 3/4 of the mousse mixture into the prepared crust, and smooth it out with the spatula. You will have a small bowl of mousse left, which you can make into quenelles and serve with balsamic strawberries and mascarpone tomorrow when you have people around to dinner. Or you could just start eating it now, and save on the dishes.
Garnish, if you like, with slivers of dried apricot and a few artfully scattered pistachios. The fun part will be getting this out of the tin. I hope you listened when I told you it should be a loose bottomed one…
Enjoy. Don’t feel guilty – remember, this is very nearly a health food!
Well, you are already gluten-free and vegan, and reasonably low-GI, as these things go, though I wouldn’t shout it to the hilltops. Perhaps saying it is low-GI compared to your average chocolate dessert would be a fairer comment.
To make it nut-free, you’d probably need to change the base significantly – perhaps use a packet or two of plain biscuits (chocolate ripple would also work) to replace the nuts. A low fructose version would also mostly be about changing the crust – at this point, you’re reverting to the standard biscuit base for refrigerated cheesecakes, I would think, just using gluten-free biscuits. And then use soy milk or almond milk to replace the orange juice and jam.
You could, of course, mess around with the quantities and types of nuts and dried fruit in the base. You could also change the flavourings in with the chocolate – no reason why it has to be apricot and orange (which is mostly overwhelmed by the chocolate anyway). Lavender would be nice here, as would berries of any kind.