Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Pear Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Before I went through pastry school, I had never made a tart. I don’t know why but tarts never got my attention. Then, part of my training was to make everything and, in doing so, I discovered something. I love making tarts! The art of pressing the crust ingredients into a shell can be very meditative. There is also the flexibility of making the crust raw or baked. And don’t get me started on fillings or toppings — there are so many to choose from!

For this recipe I began with a vanilla pastry cream filling. Then I chose to roast pears to put on top, as I had pears that needed to get eaten. Next I opted for a raw crust that began as a basic recipe but then got a bit crazy with the inclusion of some Kibo chickpea chips. (It was a creative dare, and they worked beautifully.) I threw in a bit of raspberry jam and fresh raspberries and my creation turned heavenly, although hubby said it needed some chocolate. He can be predictable.

Pear-Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
(This recipe is separated into components as any or all of the parts may be made ahead and the tart assembled later.)

Vanilla Pastry Cream adapted from Rouxbe Online Culinary School
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours to soften
3 ounces unsweetened almond milk
1 ounce agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Place cashews, milk, agave, vanilla, and salt in a high speed blender. Process on high until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the jar as needed. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts. (There will be extra, but it keeps in the refrigerator for a week.)

Tart Crusts
1 mini bag Kibo Himalayan Salt Chickpea Chips
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 tsp water, as needed
Lightly spray four mini tart pans with vegetable oil spray. Set aside. Place the chickpea chips into a food processor and process into a coarse meal. Pour the meal out into a bowl. (You will only need 1/8 cup of this meal). Put the walnuts and almonds into the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Put 1/8 cup chickpea chip meal into the food processor. Add the dates a spoonful at a time, pulsing between additions, until the dates are incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, a little at a time, and pulse until the mixture just holds together when pressed with your fingers. If the mixture seems a bit too dry, add another date. If the mixture seems a bit too wet, add a few more nuts. Spread the mixture among the prepared tart pans. Press the mixture thinly, firmly, and evenly onto the sides and bottom of the pans. (You can use a small glass or measuring cup to press down with). Put the pans in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the tarts.

Roasted Pears
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 pear, sliced thin
Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the maple syrup and balsamic in a bowl. Add the pear slices and toss to coat. Pour the pears along with the liquid into a baking pan, arranging in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. Use immediately to assemble the tarts, or store in the refrigerator for up to several days.

ready for tart assembly
ready for tart assembly

To Assemble Tarts
4 mini tart crusts still in their pans
3-4 TBS seedless raspberry jam
Vanilla pastry cream
Roasted pear slices
12 fresh raspberries
For each tart, spread a thin layer of jam over the bottom of the crust. Spoon the pastry cream on top of the jam almost to the height of the crust. Lay several pear slices and a few fresh berries over the pastry cream. To serve, carefully remove the tart from the tart pan. For tips on how to remove a tart from a pan with a removable bottom, see this article.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake

raspberry chocolate cake amysEvery once in a while I don’t really feel like baking. I want a decadent dessert that has my personal touch without my actually taking the effort to bake. So, what do I do? Semi-homemade to the rescue!

I don’t normally endorse any particular brands, but Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Chocolate Cake that is vegan (and gluten free). With a few ingredients that I usually have on hand, I can transform the cake into a Decadent Vegan Baker original without any high altitude fuss. I have brought this creation to parties and fooled everyone into thinking that I slaved all day in the kitchen.

Raspberry Chocolate Amy’s Cake
1 Amy’s Organic Chocolate Cake, defrosted
2 TBS seedless raspberry jam
3 oz dark chocolate
8-10 fresh raspberries
Take the defrosted cake out of the packaging and slice in half horizontally. Spread jam over the bottom half of the cake and top with the top half, like a jelly sandwich. Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake sandwich. Top with fresh raspberries.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups

raspberry spice chocolatesMy husband said, “bring on the chocolate,” so I did. I decided to make chocolates, which sounds scarier than it actually is. If you have the right equipment, making chocolate candies is as easy as melt-and-pour. The hard part is picking a flavor combination.

This is a no-bake vegan recipe, great for a hot summer’s day. It’s simple to do if you have the proper equipment: a silicon mold so you need not fuss with chocolate tempering, a silicon brush for the cleanest way to coat a mold, and a double boiler (or a small pot and a metal bowl that is large enough so its bottom doesn’t touch the water when it sits on top of the pot).

For this decadent and elegant dessert I chose chocolate cups filled with raspberry and a hint of chipotle. Raspberry is fantastic paired with the notes of dark chocolate, and adding the chili gives the taste buds a slight zing.

Spicy Raspberry Chocolate Cups inspired by Lazy Cat Kitchen
5 oz. dark chocolate
1 oz. seedless raspberry jam
chipotle powder, to taste
Boil a pot of water on the stove, then lower the heat to medium. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler and put it over the water. When the chocolate is melted, pull it off the heat making sure you get no water in the chocolate. Dip a silicon brush in the melted chocolate and fill in the mold cavities halfway, including up the sides. Put mold in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Remove mold from the freezer and place a teaspoon of jam into each cavity. Heat a pot of water to boiling, again. Re-melt the chocolate in the top of the double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in chipotle powder. Let the chocolate cool but not completely – you want it to be pourable. Pour the chocolate over the raspberry jam to fill each mold. Do not over- or under-fill the molds or it will be difficult to remove the candies. Put the mold in the freezer for 20 minutes more. Remove from freezer and carefully pop candy out of molds. Makes 6 chocolates.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Hearty Raspberry Muffins

hearty raspberry muffinsWaking up to a cold morning made me want a warm, hearty muffin to chase away the chill. I thought a bright burst of fruit, with some healthy bran, ought to do the trick. Looking through my cookbooks I discovered that I didn’t quite have the exact ingredients for anything that sounded good, so I baked some muffins loosely adapted on a few recipes. It’s kinda what I do.

The recipe was already dairy and egg free, so I just made a few adjustments for altitude. The recipe was simple so it only needed a little extra flour and milk and a slight reduction in leaveners. I also used paper muffin cups instead of baking directly in the muffin tin so I wouldn’t have to scrape any dried muffins off the tin.

Hearty Raspberry Muffins adapted with what was in my cupboard from “Sweet & Natural Baking” by Mani Niall
1 1/4 cups + 1 tsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
scant 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup + 1/2 tsp almond milk
1/3 cup liquid fruit juice concentrate
3 TBS canola oil
1 cup frozen raspberries, slightly broken up
Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, bran, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine and make a well in the center. In another medium bowl, whisk milk, fruit juice concentrate, and oil until surface is bubbly. Pour liquid ingredients into the well and stir just until smooth. Stir in the raspberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 11-12 muffins.

Until next time, happy baking!

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Cookie Crust and Raspberry Coulis

Chocolate mousse piePosting on Mother’s Day meant I had to do something special, something a bit fancy. Chocolate mousse came to mind but this is a baking blog and mousse isn’t baked. So, I decided to bake a chocolate cookie crust as a vehicle for my tasty chocolate mousse.

Besides a crunchy pie crust, I added a bit of glamour by making a raspberry drizzle (also known as “coulis”). The sauce adds bright color and flavor, is amazingly easy, and the leftovers are great on waffles. It rounds out this simple and fun dessert.

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Cookie Crust and Raspberry Coulis adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
chocolate cookie crust
1 cup crumbled chocolate cookies (crushed in a food processor)
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
chocolate mousse
1 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or substitute coffee extract for a deeper chocolate taste)
12 oz silken tofu, drained (soft or firm, the choice will affect the texture)
raspberry sauce
6 oz frozen raspberries, thawed
2 TBS vegan sugar
For Chocolate Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 9″ pie plate. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and slightly up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, cool on a wire rack.
For Chocolate Mousse: Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler by placing the chips in a small saucepan. Set this pan in a larger pot filled with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Heat over medium heat on the stove and stir the chips until they are melted.
Place the milk, extract and tofu into a blender. Process until almost fully smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the melted chocolate. Process until completely smooth.
For Raspberry Sauce: In a blender, thoroughly blend the raspberries and sugar. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To Assemble the Pie: Pour the mousse into the fully-cooled pie crust. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. To serve, garnish with a drizzle of raspberry sauce. You can also add fresh fruit, chocolate shavings and whipped cream.

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy baking!