Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maple Pecan Caramel Cream Tartlettes



My Mother, who I often share my desserts with (since she is my biggest food critic and we have the similar  tastes), pointed out that I haven't made any caramelized nut tarts lately.  Which is true, since I haven't been feeling like eating anything that sugary and it requires oven use.  They are her favorite dessert, and I understand why because they are filled with gooey caramel baked to perfection studded with toasty nuts and all in a buttery shortbread crust...but just a bit too sweet for me.  Plus, I like a little creamy element to my  dessert, which it does not have.  



So, I came up with a compromise that would please us both...maple pecan caramel cream tartlettes!  I would not have to heat up the oven because they would be raw, they would be sweet, but not too sweet since I was using natural sweeteners like dates and agave nectar instead of white sugar, and they would still have the delicious nuts and caramel!  



I thought the crust deserved to have pecans in it, so it was my nut of choice for the base, along with dates to sweeten.  I love that combination so much, I could eat it straight out of the food processor and not make a crust with it...but then were would the tart be?  



For the filling I used something similar to my cheesecake bases with a bit of maple extract to give it a wonderful flavor.  I swirled raw maple caramel I had made into the cream, because I didn't just want it on top, I wanted it to be very present throughout.  Of course I also thought the tartlettes needed to have plenty of pecans on top as well as a generous amount of caramel! 



I definitely approved, they were amazing with all the things I crave...creamy, crunchy and sweet, plus a little salty from the caramel. Would my Mother approve though...that was the question.  I had a good feeling she would, and I was right!  She even said that she liked them better than the caramelized nut tarts I used to make. 



Maple Pecan Caramel Cream Tartlettes
Makes two 4 inch tarts

Crust:
2 1/4 cups pecans

1/8 teaspoon sea salt
8 soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1 Tbsp agave nectar or as needed


caramel:
4 medjool dates
3 Tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp maple extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

2 tsp coconut oil warmed to liquid
filtered water as needed


Filling:
1  cups raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight)
1/2 cup young coconut meat (or additional soaked cashews if unavailable)
1/4 cup coconut water (or filtered water)
2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract and seeds from half a vanilla bean
2 tsp pure maple extract

2 cups pecans
To make the crust, add all the ingredients to the food processor, and process until smooth and holding together (if not holding together add a little more agave nectar. Press into the bottoms of two four inch removable bottom tart pans (sprayed with non-stick spray). Set aside in the freezer to firm up.

To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth (add a little (1-2 Tbsp) water if necessary to make the caramel a pourable consistency).

To make the cheesecake filling, drain the cashews and combine them with coconut water, lemon juice and nectar, coconut oil, sea salt, vanilla and maple in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the half the filling over the prepared crusts, then drop a few tsp of caramel over the filling, then pour the remaining filling over.  Drop a few more tsp of caramel onto the tops of each tart and swirl with a knife to create marbling. Place in the freezer until it is set, 4 to 6 hours.   When set, top each tart with pecans, and drizzle each with a good amount of caramel.  Serve!




18 comments:

  1. You're my hero :) )I just love this combination!

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    1. Haha...thanks Heather ;)! Me too :)!

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  2. Oh my gosh. These tarts looks BEYOND decadent. That caramel looks so creamy, almost exactly like the stuff in Snickers and Turtles ;) But I was wondering, can another nut be used instead of cashews (I'm allergic)?

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    1. Thanks Jessica :)! It was kind of like a chocolate-less turtle ;)! You can use macadamias or almonds, but still soak them.

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  3. This reminds me of turtles which I LOVE. I need this in my life right now.

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    1. It reminded me of turtle too! I didn't mis the chocolate though because I am more of a caramel vanilla girl ;).

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  4. Wow! this looks amazing. You know what I like about it the best? It reminds me that Autumn is just around the corner at which time I will definitely be trying this!

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    1. Thank you :)! I hope you do try it, and Autumn would be perfect! I can imagine it with apples included too!

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  5. That is droolworthy!!! Amazing.. Love the different shades of brown and white!!

    http://nivedhanams.blogspot.in/

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  6. Love this combination, Amy - it's so beautiful and it reminds me of a cheesecake without all the baking and cheese! You're always such an inspiration of creativity... I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks for the inspiration...

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    1. Thanks :)! You are too kind featuring me so often on your blog, much appreciated :)!

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  7. I have been away for awhile....apparently I have missed a lot. This one I will have to try ASAP!

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    1. Good thing the recipes are always here ;)! Thanks for the visit :)!

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  8. This tart looks awesome! I just found your site today looking for a dessert for a small lunch I am hosting next week.

    Question. How much lemon juice should I use in the filling? Your recipe doesn't say. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks so much :)! Glad to have you here! Just 2 tsp or a little squirt of lemon juice to make it taste more like dairy ;).

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