Saturday, October 16, 2010

Carmelized Autumn Nut and Date Tart

The beautiful leaves have all fallen off the now, all I see when I look out the window is bare sticks, not the prettiest part of Autumn, and I am sad that the beautiful fall colors are past peak.  But just because the trees are now ugly, doesn't mean that all the rest of fall needs to be, and so I decided that a beautiful dessert fit for Autumn needed to be made...specifically, a nut tart! 

I thought I could use different colors of nuts that remind me of this time of year, pecans, walnuts and pepitas, as well as some gooey dates!  I have made many nut tarts, but this one was going to be a new recipe, an experiment.  They usually contain lots of butter and cream, but I was curious to see if it was possible to create a vegan version that was just as heavenly.  So for my crust this time I relied on coconut oil to give it a rich texture instead of the butter and coconut milk in place of the cream in the filling.  Would it turn out?  I was very nervous when I pulled it out of the oven, because it didn't seem to set up quite the same.  But a stay in the fridge overnight after it had cooled was just what it needed to completely firm up.  It was delicious!  Gooey dates and crunchy nuts in a bourbon laced caramel...yummy!  You could not tell that the crust had no butter or the tart did not contain cream.  This one actually ended up being better than the original! 

Vegan Carmelized Autumn Nut and Date Tart
makes one 10 inch tart
1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup coconut milk

1 cup full fat coconut milk
3/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
2 Tbsp bourbon
1 1/2 cups very soft dates (such as medjool) pitted and quartered
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup toasted walnuts
1 cup toasted pepitas

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in coconut oil with pastry blender or hands until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add coconut milk, and mix together with hands until dough comes together, adding a little more if necessary to form a cohesive dough ball. Lightly flour a surface, and roll dough out to fit a 10 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom (chill a little while in the fridge if dough is too soft to work with). Press dough into pan, and place in the freezer. Freeze 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, place coconut milk, maple sugar, agave nectar and heat on medium high until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Let boil 4 minutes, while stirring, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla, bourbon, pecans, walnuts, and pepitas. Scatter dates evenly over the crust, then pour caramel and nuts into crust, and bake on the middle rack of the oven on a sheet pan lined with foil (to catch any spillage) about 40-45 minutes until browned and bubbling (check the tart after 20 minutes, and if it is getting too dark, cover it loosely with foil until finished baking) . Cool on rack completely, then refrigerate overnight before serving.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good Earth Tea Infused Ice Cream

I am obsessed with Original Good Earth Tea!  I drink at least 3 cups of it a brings some enjoyment to my work day, and calms me at night.  I call it the non-tea drinker's tea, because anyone who has told me they don't like tea I have suggested it to and they loved it.  Dessert in a tea, it has a wonderful sweet cinnamon aroma and flavor that fills your nose as you drink it and a heavenly sweet flavor.  In the summer I make Arnie Palmers with it (tea and lemon juice) and they need no sweetener since the tea sweetens itself! 

So when I was racking my brain trying to think of what type of ice cream I would like to make since the temperatures have soared high above normal this week in Minnesota it popped into my head to infuse the cool dessert with the tea!  Why not?  Other people use chai... I ended up using 5 tea bags to infuse the ice cream.  I used a coconut milk non-dairy ice cream base, and flavored it with nothing but the tea and a hint of vanilla.  I didn't know if it would have enough flavor, but when I tasted the base it was perfect!  It didn't need as much sweetening as some other ice creams I have made since the tea was so sweet.  It was almost like a cinnamon ice cream, but way having my Good Earth Tea and ice cream together!  It has got to be one of my favorite simple ice creams that I make!  It is fabulous on its own, but I enjoyed some with apple crisp and it was delicious!  Try some for yourself, especially if you are a fan of Good Earth Tea!

Good Earth Tea Infused Ice Cream
Makes about 4 cups of  ice cream

1 cup full fat coconut milk at room temperature
5 Good Earth Tea bags, regular or decaf
2 cups organic full fat coconut milk, chilled
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

To make base, heat 1 cup coconut milk to boiling and add tea bags.  Let steep a few hours, then squeeze the bags into the milk to get all the liquid out.  Discard bags, and chill milk until very cold.  Combine all ingredients including infused milk in a blender, and process until well blended. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later). Pour into a freezable container with a lid and place in the freezer for at least a few hours, or overnight to firm up for best results.