Chocolate Caramel Cream Valentine’s Day Tart

chocolate caramel cream tart
chocolate caramel cream tart

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I thought I would create a special dessert for my sweetie. It had to be more than decadent. I wanted it to be lavish so he would know how much I loved him. That, and I wanted to enjoy an amazing treat with him. Eying my new tart pan, I decided that a layered tart would be perfect. The indulgent delight I made has several steps, one of which requires advanced preparation, so I am sharing with you a week early to give you time.

My final creation is an amalgamation of several recipes. One of the recipes was not vegan, but it only required a butter substitution. And, although the crust is baked, it didn’t have to be adjusted for high altitude due to its lack of leaveners. So, I brought together a chocolate crust filled with a layer of carmel-like goodness and topped with rich ganache. The combined result is similar to a gooey chocolate bar with a crust. Yes, happy Valentine’s Day to me, too!

Chocolate Caramel Cream Valentine’s Day Tart, with a nod to Rodelle Kitchen, Vegan Richa, and Deborah Durrant

Chocolate Crust

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 TBS dutch process cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

6 TBS cold vegan Flora Butter

Caramel Cream

3/4 cup pitted medjool dates (8-9 dates)

1 TBS almond butter

1 TBS agave syrup

1.5 TBS coconut oil

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/8-1/4 tsp fine sea salt, to taste

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1.75 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

1/4 cup melted cocoa butter, allowed to cool but not harden

Advance prep: Soak 1 cup raw cashews for the ganache in cold water for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Chocolate Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom of a 9” diameter removable-bottom tart pan with parchment paper, and lightly spray with oil. (This size is best. I used my new rectangular pan but had leftovers that I put in a small pan). Using a food processor, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, dutch process cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp salt, and vegan butter. Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Firmly press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pressing down with the flat bottom of a measuring cup makes this easier. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the crust is firm. Cool the pan on a wire rack before filling the tart.

Caramel Cream: Soak the dates in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain the dates. Add drained dates to a food processor, along with almond butter, agave syrup, coconut oil, 1/3 cup almond milk, and 1/8 tsp salt. Process into a smooth puree. Taste and adjust for salt, the amount dependent on the salt content of your almond butter. Spread a thin, even layer of this caramel cream on the cooled, baked crust.

Chocolate Ganache: Drain soaked cashews and rinse under cold water. To a food processor, add drained cashews, 1/4 cup almond milk, maple syrup, raw cacao powder, 1.75 tsp vanilla extract, and pinch salt. Process for 1 minute. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the melted cocoa butter. Process until the ganache is smooth and glossy; this may take up to 5 minutes. Pour the ganache on top of the caramel layer in the crust. Smooth out with a spatula. Place in the fridge to set. After 15 minutes, remove the tart pan from the fridge and remove the tart from the pan. Peel the parchment paper off of the bottom and place on a serving plate.

Until next time, happy baking!

Halloween Candy Store

Halloween Candy Store
Halloween Candy Store

Thank you for visiting my candy store for Halloween. Today I have several treats for you … and no tricks! I offer you a trio of fairly easy candy recipes. You won’t need a candy thermometer, and you don’t have to laboriously temper chocolate. And, if you are the impatient type (aren’t we all when it comes to treats), the truffles are ready in just a few minutes.

Each recipe that I adapted was already vegan. There is no baking involved, so high altitude was not a problem. Any changes I made were to finesse textures and include ingredients that I prefer. I also chose treats that were a little bit healthier so I wouldn’t get too crazy a sugar buzz. I hope you enjoy these treats, and have a Happy Halloween!

Matcha Nut Truffles adapted from Pistachio and Matcha Truffles

1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
9 medjool dates, pitted
1 TBS chia seeds
1 TBS hemp seeds
2 TBS vegan chocolate chips
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

Add everything except the matcha to a food processor. Process until well combined, with a somewhat crumbly texture. Add the matcha powder and process again. Pour the mixture out into a bowl. Take a spoonful of the mixture in your palm and squeeze tightly, then roll it into a ball. Place on a dish and repeat with the rest of the mixture. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 10-12 truffles.

Chocolate-Covered Caramel Rolls

1.25 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1 tsp maca powder
pinch sea salt
1 TBS vanilla extract
1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the dates, cashews, maca, salt, and vanilla. Process until the cashews are broken down to tiny flecks and the mixture starts to form a ball. The mixture will be a bit sticky. If it is not, then add another date or two and process again. Take a spoonful of the mixture and roll it between your palms. Place each roll on the parchment-lined sheet. Put the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove the chocolate from the heat. Place a cooled roll on a fork, quickly dip it into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off, then place it on the parchment-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining rolls. When all are dipped, put the cookie sheet in the fridge until the chocolate is firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 24-30 rolls.

candy making ingredients
candy making ingredients

Cool Peppermint Patties

organic powdered sugar for baking sheet
1 TBS raw cashew butter
2.5 TBS refined coconut oil, in solid form
1.5 tsp agave syrup
1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract, or to taste
2 tsp organic powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, and set aside. In a bowl, use a spatula to combine the cashew butter, coconut oil, agave, peppermint extract, and 2 tsp powdered sugar. Place the bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes for the mixture to get firm. When the mixture is a scoopable consistency, take a small amount and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then place the sheet back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Prepare another baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. When melted, remove chocolate from the heat and let it cool slightly. When cooled, take a large dollop of chocolate and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Swirl it into a thick disc with the back of a spoon. Place a peppermint disc on top of the chocolate, then place another dollop of chocolate on top of that. Swirl the chocolate around to coat the peppermint disc. Refrigerate the coated patties until firm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 15 patties.

Until next time, happy nonbaking!

National Ice Cream Day Cake

national ice cream day cake

national ice cream day cake

Today is National Ice Cream Day, and I almost missed it! I wanted to celebrate by assembling an ice cream cake, and rapidly because the weather was heating up. So, I looked to my favorite chocolate cake, the Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake. With the vanilla ice cream in my freezer and a few dessert syrups, I was ready to go.

The Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake had previously been adapted to high altitude and veganism on the blog. To ensure that I had a strong structure for this cake to hold up to ice cream, I omitted the chocolate chips when it was baked. Next came the ice cream, and I used So Delicious Creamy Vanilla Soymilk Ice Cream because I enjoy its true vanilla flavor. Rummaging through my fridge produced a caramel sauce I had purchased at the farmer’s market. All that remained to complete the cake was a pourable fudge sauce that I quickly mixed together.

National Ice Cream Day Cake

2 layers of Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake
1 cup non-dairy ice cream
several TBS non-dairy caramel sauce, warmed
several TBS Raw Chocolate Syrup (recipe below), warmed

To assemble the National Ice Cream Day Cake, prepare the Easy Chocolate Cake Pan Cake in two 6” cake pans that are greased and parchment-lined. For ease of preparation, whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another, then stir well before pouring into the pans. Once fully baked and then cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. This helps the cake and ice cream to be at similar temperatures when put together.

Place ice cream on a kitchen counter to warm slightly. Remove cake layers from the freezer and level off if the tops are uneven. Place one layer on a serving plate. Scoop slices, not balls, of ice cream and place on top of the cake layer almost to the edge of the cake. Gently place the second cake layer upside-down on top of the ice cream. Drizzle warm caramel sauce and chocolate syrup over the cake. Enjoy immediately, or it will get melty like the one in my picture. (It’s okay; my cake still tasted delicious).

Raw Chocolate Syrup from Rouxbe Online Cooking School
2 cups cocoa powder
1 cup raw agave syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 TBS coconut butter
1/2 cup water
1 TBS vanilla extract

In a high–speed blender, blend all ingredients until fully mixed and smooth.

Until next time, happy baking!

Coffee Ice Cream Pie

coffee ice cream pie

coffee ice cream pie

While writing this post I learned a few things: 1) my husband does not like whipped topping, and 2) you can make a fantastic vegan caramel sauce without coconut (coconut, ewww). I had been determined to find a recipe for a yummy caramel sauce for years. In my search I also ran across many chocolate sauce recipes so I decided to make them both. The question was – what to do with them? I grabbed the Coffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream I’d made over the summer and combined everything into a frozen pie. That’s where my husband’s lack of desire for whipped topping came to light. So, my pie has no vegan whipped topping, but if you want to garnish your pie with some then you go right ahead.

Let’s start with the sauces …

Caramel Sauce adapted from GoDairyFree.org
3/4 cup plain almond milk
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 TBS water
1 TBS arrowroot powder
2 TBS vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place milk, sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan and whisk well to combine. Cook over medium heat, while whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together water and arrowroot, and then whisk mixture into pan. Cook mixture, while whisking constantly, an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until it thickens. Remove pan from heat and whisk in margarine and vanilla. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Chocolate Sauce adapted from KitchenTreaty.com
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup vegan sugar
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 TBS vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder and sugar until blended. Add water and salt, and whisk over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Continue boiling until mixture thickens, for 3-4 minutes. It will still be fairly thin. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator. It should keep for at least a month.

Now we put it all together in a chocolate shell …

Coffee Ice Cream Pie
1-1/2 cups vegan chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (can use gluten-free, if desired)
3 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted
4 cups vegan coffee chocolate chip ice cream, softened
1/4 cup caramel sauce (see recipe above)
2 TBS chocolate syrup (see recipe above)
In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and margarine. Press into bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9” pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spoon ice cream into crust. Spread caramel sauce over top. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Freeze until firm. Remove from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.

Until next time, happy unbaking!

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles

chocolate caramel fudge trufflesWandering through the market I came across Silk’s new Caramel Almond Creamer. Drooling, I brought it to the checkout, all the while wondering what I would do with it. Until recently, caramel has been an unavailable flavor for vegan cooks unless it involved coconut milk. Seeing that I am not a fan of coconut, I have been deprived of that luscious caramel flavor. Until now.

Because I was looking for a no-bake idea, I thought that truffles would be a wonderful base for caramel. The recipe that I found had a completely different taste profile but would adapt well to the creamer. It didn’t have added sugar which wasn’t necessary with the already sweetened Caramel Creamer. The truffles still turned out quite sweet, so I tamed them a bit by rolling them in raw cacao powder instead of the author’s ideas of melted chocolate and raspberry.

This recipe requires a high speed blender to work the ingredients together. The blenders are very useful but can be a pain to clean when making something sticky like truffles. But I’ve got you covered. When you’ve scraped up all of the truffle bits that you can from the blender, add milk to the dregs and re-blend. It cleans up the mess while making a decadent chocolate milk.

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Truffles adapted from Raspberry Dusted Chocolate Fudge Brownie Truffles
2 cups raw cashews
pinch sea salt
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup Silk caramel almond creamer
1 TBS coconut oil, melted
1 cup Navitas Naturals cacao powder, plus extra for rolling the truffles in
Line a baking pan with wax paper. In a high speed blender, blend cashews to a fine crumble. Add salt, dates, creamer, coconut oil and cacao powder, blending to combine. Using your hands, roll the mixture into balls and place on lined baking pan. Alternately, spread fudge mixture into the pan and cut into squares when it has hardened. Transfer pan to fridge to set truffles, at least 30 minutes. Place some cacao powder in a shallow bowl. Roll truffles in cacao powder to cover, or sprinkle on squares. Store in refrigerator.

Until next time, happy non-baking!