Vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts
Vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts
While summer in Greece probably stretches a bit further than in most of Europe, our weather has also turned recently. It is still fairly warm, but really, really windy, which is the taste of impending winter, Greek island-style.
In some ways, winter here is quite tough. After the craze of summer, the place gets so empty and shut down that it would be depressing if not for the amazing nature around us. Winter (and the peak of Greek summer) also tends to sabotage my running plans. Every time I get into a steady running routine and quietly congratulate myself on sticking with it, a week of 24 m/h (40km/h) winds appear on the horizon and I’m back to square one.
In other ways though, I’m looking forward to winter. For starters, cooking in relentless heat can be quite challenging so a bit of cooler weather makes it a much more pleasant pastime. Another thing I am looking forward to are cold winter evenings spent under a warm blanket with a cat sleeping next to me, catching up on favourite shows and enjoying some nice wine and food, including more decadent desserts like these vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts.
Ever since I started working on this recipe, Duncan has become a massive fan of these little tarts. Whenever, after a tasting, I decided that I am not 100% happy with the end result (be it looks, consistency or balance of flavours), he was secretly very happy that there will be a few more iterations of this dessert appearing in front of him.
He is very particular when it comes to desserts. He hates typical vegan desserts (or what most people think of when they hear ‘vegan dessert’) with a passion. He says all kinds of energy balls, vegan slices and raw brownies (ahem), etc. remind him of baby food. Nice! He loves the kind of desserts that you would have hard time believing were vegan if someone hadn’t told you. He says that the world doesn’t need any more energy balls, it needs elegant and decadent desserts that just happen to be vegan. He reckons that you guys will go crazy for these!
- 120 g white all purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
- 6 level tsp icing sugar
- 6 level tsp raw cacao powder
- 40 ml / 2½ tbsp olive oil
- 20-30 ml / 1½-2 tbsp water (at room temperature)
- ½ cup sugar (I used brown raw cane)
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk + ¼ cup (see instructions)
- ¾ level tsp fine salt
- 100 g / 3.5 oz dark (70% cocoa) chocolate
- 60 ml / ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- Sift flour, icing sugar and cacao into a mixing bowl. Add olive oil and rub it into the dry ingredients with your hands. Finally add water – be careful, do it gradually – how much water you’ll need depends on how absorbent your flour is (mine needed 25 ml). Combine all the ingredients into a dough gently, but do not knead. Wrap it in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 4 portions. Place each portion of the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll gently until you get a rough circle, about 2-3 mm in thickness. (Below a photo from another tart recipe illustrates how to line tart moulds with shortcrust pastry).
- Put each rolled-out pastry over each mould and and work the pastry into the mould making sure it reaches all nooks and crannies. Once you are happy with the coverage, trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork in a few places. Place the pastry in the fridge for about 60 mins.
- 45 min into pastry chilling time, preheat the oven to 175° C / 350° F. Line the pastry cases with a small piece of baking paper and fill with baking beads.
- Blind bake the pastry for 15 mins, then remove the beads and bake for another 5 mins. Cool pastry cases down completely before pouring any of the filling in.
- Spread an even layer of sugar at the bottom of a dry pan or pot. Heat up sugar on a medium heat (I used setting 3 out of 6). Refrain from stirring it, although if your pan has hot spots, you may need to gently manoeuvre unmelted sugar into a hot spot. Meanwhile, warm up ½ cup of coconut milk in a separate pot.
- Once all the sugar has melted, let the sugar caramelise and darken slightly (it will happen quite quickly so be careful not to burn it). The darker the caramel the less sweet it will be. Once the sugar achieves the colour you are after, take the pan off the heat and slowly stir in warmed up coconut milk and then add salt. Be very careful as even though warming milk up minimises this, caramel may be splattering at this point and it will be very hot.
- There is a chance that once you add coconut milk, some of the caramel will harden into big lumps. What you need to do is to return the pan to the stove and set on a very low setting (I used 2 out of 6) to allow these lumps to melt away. Make sure you keep on stirring the mixture. Now, because the longer you cook your caramel sauce the more sticky and less sauce-like it will become, if you do need to bring it back to the stove to melt any stubborn lumps, add another ¼ cup / 60 ml of coconut milk to the pan to ensure that once your lumps have dissolved the caramel will retain sauce consistency. Do not panic if it appears to be too runny at first, caramel thickens as it cools down. If it does end up being too runny, place the pan back on the stove an reduce the caramel gently to thicken the sauce.
- Melt the chocolate very slowly (I used setting 1 out of 6) over a water bath. Once melted, remove from heat, but keep the bowl with chocolate over the hot water. Start adding coconut milk whisking gently the whole time. At this point the chocolate may seem to have seized a little, don’t worry, keep on whisking gently and any lumps will eventually melt away. Once you have added all coconut milk, add water stirring the whole time.
- Once you have a smooth ganache, add 2 tsp of maple syrup – this is not strictly necessary as I find that bitter chocolate provides a nice contrast against very sweet caramel, but that’s up to you.
- Let it cool off completely before pouring it into cool pastry cases.
- Pour about a level tbsp of cool caramel sauce into cool (that’s important) pastry cases.
- Pour cool chocolate ganache on top of the caramel. Let the tarts set for a few hours at room temperature. You can also put them into the fridge if you want be able to eat them sooner.
- If you want to store these overnight, I found that the best way to do it is to keep them in a box covered with a piece of cling film at room temperature (as opposed to the fridge).
My mini tarts were 8 cm diameter and 2 cm height so that's 3 inches and 0.75 inch approximately. Hope this helps! Ania
Not sure what I did wrong.
I'm sorry to hear that, I am not sure what you mean by 'broke' but you can bring it back by mixing in a small amount of boiling water. Ganache can seize when chocolate was heated too aggressively or when chocolate comes in contact with any water/moisture. Hope this helps! Ania
1/2 cup of caster sugar is 100 g and 1/2 cup of any liquid is 120 ml. I hope that helps! Ania
Veganism is not a diet. It is about avoidance of all animal or animal-derived products (for example: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, leather, gelatine and honey) to minimise animal suffering. It has nothing to do with being gluten-free, although some vegans, like non-vegans, choose to be or have to be gluten-free due to wheat intolerance. Hope that helps! There are lots of articles about this online (like this one here). Ania
I haven't tried it side by side with regular caramel (for obvious reasons) so not sure. I am guessing that if you are sensitive to coconut taste you probably could a little. Ania
I have just discovered your blog and I am really excited with some of your recipes. Your Greek inspired vegan dishes , in particular, will be something I will definitely try in the following weeks.
My caramel sauce didn't thicken , had to thicken it with tapica flour. it didn't alter the flavour.
appears I have some holes in the crust. running caramel sauce coming out the bottom of the tarts..hahah...im just licking it up no bigging.
hope it sets before all the sauce runs out the hole..
Not discouraged. I will try these again.
From my experience coconut flour is very water absorbent so you may end up with a dry shell too. Have you tried adding more oil and water to the GF pastry? As for the caramel it sounds like you didn't cook it for long enough and so excess moisture haven't had a chance to evaporate, perhaps persevere a bit longer next time. And also, I am glad you are not losing heart as caramel is a tricky thing to get right if you haven't made one before. It took me a while to learn the technique and patience too ;) Good luck next time! Ania
Could I use cacaomas or dairy-free chocolate instead of raw cacao for the pastry?
I think that I seem to be able to do it if I change other combination…
Sorry for the confusing explanation.
"Cacaomas" means chocolate liquor (cocoa liquor) or cocoa mass.
Interested that you are in Greece, we spent a lovely few weeks on Syros last October, so beautiful :) We live in New Zealand which is also a beautiful place.
They taste absolutely fantastic... vegan for the win 😁
Thank you for the recipe it looks fab and I'll be making it for my husbands and my date night this weekend!
Can this recipe be made in a normal 9" tart tin? I don't have any of the individual ones.
Thank you. I hope both you and your husband will like it. Yes, sure, as long as there is enough pastry and filling to cover the surface area and fill the tart, of course. Ania
I'm glad to hear that it turned out well in the end and that your daughter loved it! As for the caramel, it does sound like it needed to be pushed a touch more. The pastry is shortcrust pastry so it should not be stretchy at all (you don't knead it like pizza dough), otherwise it will end up tough once baked. I appreciate that switching to vegan alternatives might take some getting used to but it's really worth it! Trust me :) Ania
I'm sorry to hear that you had trouble obtaining the right consistency of caramel. Making caramel is a bit of a art form, vegan or not, so please don't be discouraged! This particular caramel is meant to fairly runny as you want it to ooze out of from underneath the ganache layer - like in my photos. Once the caramel has been cooled down completely, there should be no problem with pouring cooled chocolate ganache on top, especially that the sides are enclosed by pastry - did you modify the recipe in any way? I must say that I am not sure I understand what went wrong. As for the pastry, it sounds like it perhaps needed a touch more water, it should not be tough at all.
Kind regards, Anisa
Thank you, I am so glad to hear it! I'll be honest, I don't know as they don't last longer than 2 days in my house (or I give them to my neighbours), but you can definitely make caramel ahead of time and keep it in a sterlised jar in the fridge and perhaps pastry can be made ahead, laid out in a pastry tin and frozen until you are ready to bake it.
Hope that helps a little!
I'm sorry to hear that you had problems making the caramel. If that's of any consolation, caramel is notorious for being tricky to get right and I myself have messed it up a number of times too, so don't worry. There are two methods for caramel makin: dry (which is the one I gave in the recipe) or wet. Stirring is definitely a 'no no' in a dry method as it causes the sugar to clump together and harden. It sounds to me that your heat might have been turned up a bit too high. Were you making more than one portion? With 1/2 cup of sugar you should have a thin layer of sugar, even in a small pan. I would try again if you are not too discouraged. Perhaps watching a You Tube tutorial on the art of caramel making will be helpful.
Hope that helps,
also, for the caramel i'm thinking to use coconut sugar, which already has the caramelly flavor :P
I haven't tried making pastry with either cocoa butter or coconut butter so I'm not sure. Coconut oil will definitely work, but I would advise going for refined one in this instance. Yes, you are not supposed to 'work' shortcrust pastry or it will get tough. Gluten activation is not your friend when it comes to pastry making :) Hope that helps, Ania.
Hope that helps,
They look great!
How strange, I've already replied to your question (see below). Hope that helps, Ania
I was wondering what you thought of substituting cocoa powder for raw cacao?
I'll be honest, I've never tried it and I don't use it as an ingredient but if it tastes like bitter chocolate then it should work fine. If it is sweetened then you may need to reduce the amount of sugar in the pastry, but don't fret too much as the filling is sweet enough so unsweetened pastry won't be a disaster if you don't nail the exact ratio.
Thank you, I'm glad you like the recipe! I haven't tried making them any other size, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Yes, caramel can certainly be made a day ahead as it's a runny caramel so no problems there. The crust could possibly be made a day in advance too although I always the pastry fresh so not sure whether sticking it into the fridge overnight won't affect the texture. I would make the pastry on the day if you can.
Hope you'll like the end result!
Sounds fantastic. But how much is a level? Couldn't find it on google. I live in the US.
Thank you. Can't wait to try them....
Glad to hear that you like the recipe. Let me know how you liked it if you do try it. Have a look at the image under this thread for an explanation of what a level vs heaped/rounded teasppon is http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/59711/rounded-heaping-and-other-types-of-teaspoonfuls
Hope that helps,
To be fair, I wouldn't think of a typical vegan dessert as energy balls or something raw/healthy. I think that's setting the stereotype that makes it SO hard to get vegan desserts mainstream.
Hope that helps, Ania
Greetings from Greece !
Its accidental that im reading this recipe