Gluten-free, vegan chocolate tarts
Mummy,” said Belle with a very serious face (as I got to the crucial part of my story). “Don’t be so ridiculous!”
There is nothing funnier than your kids getting cross and throwing your words right back at you.
In all the parenting madness, it’s the little moments like these that keep me going. I was telling a story over dinnertime, hoping to keep the girls’ attention just a little longer while they shovelled in their peas.
Whether it was the story or the promise of a chocolate tart I am not sure, but dinner time was going remarkably well.
It got even better when Chloe told me her dessert was “the most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth”!
It was very satisfying to bump the electric blue snow cone down a notch or two. It’s rare that I give myself a parenting high five, but that night I did.
These little chocolate tarts came about as I was looking for a way to use up some chocolate ganache left over from truffle-making. That gives completely the wrong impression of my life as I don’t generally swan around making ganache and truffles!
But the upside to the insatiable beast that is social media, is that I do get to experiment with fun recipes in the name of work. And these little gems are a fantastic way to nip a chocolate craving in the bud.
The trick to giving up the junk is really to find delicious whole food alternatives that you can enjoy without the guilt.
Ultimately, it’s even better to get to the root of any emotional or comfort-eating issues too, but “cleaning up” your treats into something that actually nourishes you is a good step in the right direction.
If you try and satisfy your cravings with processed, refined confectionery or baking, you are just going to be left wanting more.
Devoid of any real nutritional value or protein, that kind of “treat” simply sets you up for a cycle of addiction.
Try, instead, to pick real treats with nutritious ingredients. On the go, that could mean some dark chocolate and some nuts or, if you are cooking it means choosing your recipe wisely.
Look for a short ingredient list that focuses on whole foods.
The chocolate ganache here is made using coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder.
That’s a more expensive base than cream and Aunt Jemima I admit, but it’s better to have a little of the expensive stuff than a lot of the cheap stuff.
In particular, coconut oil is getting a lot of attention these days for its health properties. It’s easier to digest than animal-based fats and recent studies have identified anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Having said that, it’s still an oil and so your intake should be modest, which is why I made these using a mini-muffin pan.
The result is a tiny chocolate tart with tons of flavour and an amazing texture.
The crust is made simply from pecans and Medjool dates (with a pinch of sea salt) — a great way to do gluten-free without all the weird additives.
Mini chocolate tarts
Ingredients: (makes approximately 12 tarts)
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup Medjool dates (after they have been pitted and chopped)
Large pinch sea salt
¾ cup maple syrup (you can experiment with less) at room temperature
½ cup unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, melted over a low heat.
½ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (or raw cacao if you can get it)
1. Grease a mini-muffin pan with a light layer of coconut oil.
2. Make the crust by placing the nuts, dates and salt in a food processor. Whizz on low, and then high, until the nuts have crumbled and the dates have become a paste.
The mixture should stick well together when pressed.
3. Form small walnut-sized balls with the mixture and place each one in a mini muffin spot.
Press the dough down and out until it covers the inside of the mould and has formed a cup. Be sure to leave enough dough covering the base layer. You can test this using a knife. Do this for each one and then place in the fridge or freezer to set while you make the ganache.
4. Wash the processor bowl well and then add the ganache ingredients. I suggest you make sure the maple syrup is at room temperature.
If it is cold it will cause the coconut oil to reharden and then you may have lumpy ganache despite the processor!
Whizz on low until all the ingredients are well blended. Switch to high for 20 seconds, then pour into a jug or use a spoon to fill the cups.
5. Place back in the fridge to set. Allow one hour before serving. You can use the freezer if you are in a hurry, but cover with foil first.
The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda
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