Growing up, I would always take on the task of creating the "dessert menu" when it came to Christmas dinner. I would get so excited about creating and showcasing so many different flavors and textures that everyone would usually end up with a trio of different sweets on their plate: hence why I called it the dessert menu!
One combination that always made it to the holiday table was chocolate and cherries (think black forest cheesecake). I loved that combo so much that it was a staple, if it wasn't included we were all missing out, right? Some things never change, and years later it's still one of my favorite flavor combinations.
If you like my Mint Chocolate Tart that I uploaded last week, this recipe is a variation on it. It uses the same tart crust (if it ain't broke don't fix it!), a variation of the dark chocolate ganache, and a cherry raspberry jelly in place of the white chocolate mint layer.
I wanted this recipe to be a delicious treat that everyone could enjoy over the holidays. The crust is made using almond flour and is completely gluten-free. The cherry raspberry jelly can be made using frozen fruits and can be interchanged for different berries or currants of your choice. The silky, chocolate ganache layer is made using dark chocolate and coconut milk, making it dairy-free and easy to make!
- Almond flour: For the crust of the tart, almond flour gives a delicious nutty flavor while keeping the tart gluten-free.
- Cacao powder: For a chocolatey base, cacao powder is added to the crust.
- Coconut oil: The crust needs fat in order not to dry it out and bind the dough together.
- Pure maple syrup: This is used to sweeten the base of the crust, you could also use agave syrup.
- Sea salt: A touch of salt helps to enhance the flavors of the tart crust while also helping to marry all the flavors together.
- Fresh or frozen cherries and raspberries: Personally, I prefer to use frozen berries as they have a stronger flavor and are available all year round. You can use other berries of your choice here as well such as blackberries, strawberries, or blackcurrants.
- Agar-agar: This acts as the setting agent for the jelly which is derived from red algae. It's a cruelty-free alternative to animal-based gelatine which is made from the skin, ligaments, and bones of cows or pigs.
- Vanilla extract: A touch of vanilla is added to both the ganache and jelly layers for extra flavor.
- Coconut milk: Thick full-fat canned coconut milk is refrigerated overnight in order to separate the cream (the part you want for this recipe) from the water. This is what creates a creamy chocolate ganache, that sets perfectly.
- Dark chocolate: Dairy-free dark chocolate gives the chocolate ganache a wonderful rich flavor. I recommend using anything from 70-90%, depending on the level of sweetness you would like.
- Forest fruits: To garnish the tart, use any berries or forest fruits of your choice. I love using cherries and blackberries.
- Freeze-dried raspberries: These are optional but highly recommend for adding to the tart. They add color, flavor, and texture to the top of the tart.
How to make this recipe
- Oven temperature and timing: The key to the perfect crust is to make sure that the oven temperature is set at no more than 180°C (350°F). Timing is also important, keep a close eye on the crust, it will take anything from 10-12 minutes to bake, a minute too long and you could end up with a burnt appearance/taste.
- Use a tart tin with a removable base: I've learned this the hard way, and believe me, the last thing you want is to be standing there trying to figure out how to get your perfectly decorated tart out of a tart shell with no removable base.
- Grease your tart tin: If like me you're all about that easy life, then do yourself a favor and grease the bottom and sides of the tart shell. This will prevent the crust from getting stuck on the sides and cracking.
- Pierce the dough: When the tart is baking in the oven, air can build up between the crust and the tart shell, causing the crust to rise and bake unevenly. To avoid this, take a fork and pierce several holes into the base and sides of the crust, this will ensure an evenly baked base.
The jelly center
- Reduce the ingredients: Cooking down the cherries and raspberries with the maple syrup will reduce the liquid content of the jelly and intensify the flavor and sweetness. A good indication as to when the mixture is ready is to note when it has reduced in volume by about half.
- Add the setting agent: In this recipe, we're using agar-agar, which first needs to be activated in order for it to jellify and set the jam. To do this, it needs to be thoroughly mixed in a liquid and then heated. The heating process will activate the agar-agar, enabling it to set the jelly once cooled.
- Allow it to cool: It's important not to pour the piping hot liquid jelly mixture into the tart shell, as the heat may cause it to leak into the tart leaving you with a soggy crust! Allow the mixture to cool slightly for 15-20 minutes and then pour it into the tart shell. Once cooled to room temperature the tart can be transferred to the fridge to set completely.
Expert tips for perfect vegan chocolate ganache
- Temperature: Don't boil the milk! You just want to heat the coconut milk gently over low-medium heat. Boiling the milk could cause the coconut milk to break, separating the water from the fat. Another reason to keep the temperature below boiling point is it will affect the overall quality of the ganache. You won't get that silky smooth result if the temperature of the chocolate gets too high.
- Avoid water: Adding water to your ganache can cause the mixture to seize and become dull. Make sure that the bowl you use is completely dry and that no water splashes into the mixture throughout the process.
- Good quality chocolate: It probably goes without saying that the quality of the chocolate that you use will have a huge effect on the end result of the ganache.
- Chop the chocolate: Cutting the chocolate into small pieces will help it to melt faster.
This recipe is
- Vegan: this tart is made using plant-based ingredients and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients such as dairy, eggs, or honey.
- Easy to make: this recipe is suitable for bakers of all skill levels whether you’re an avid home baker or a beginner
- Versatile: You can swap the cherries and raspberries in the jelly for any other berries or currants of your choice. You can also use either fresh or frozen fruit, depending on what's available to you.
- Gluten-free: there is no gluten in the ingredients of this cake making it suitable for coeliacs and those who need to omit wheat or gluten as part of their dietary requirements.
- Can be adapted as nut-free: If you don’t do almonds, replace them with oat flour.
- Decadent and indulgent: the chocolate ganache layers of this tart are deliciously smooth and creamy. They contrast perfectly to the crunchy cacao almond crust.
More vegan chocolate tarts
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Vegan Forest Fruits Chocolate Tart
- 2 cups (225 g) almond flour
- ⅓ cup (30 g) cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) coconut oil , solid
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) sea salt
Cherry Raspberry Jelly
- 2 ½ cups (345 g) fresh or frozen cherries
- 1 cup (120 g) fresh or frozen raspberries, or other berries of choice
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon (2.45 g) agar agar powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract, or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 400ml can chilled coconut milk, *see notes
- 3.5 oz (100 g) vegan dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoon (30 ml) pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract, or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- Pinch sea salt
- Fresh cherries
- Fresh blackberries
- Freeze-dried raspberries
- Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F). Lightly grease the base and sides of a 9.5" tart tin with some coconut oil.
- In your food processor, combine the almond flour, cacao powder, coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt until the ingredients stick together to form a dough.
- Evenly press the dough into the base and sides of the tart tin and use a fork to prick several holes into the base.
- Bake the crust for 12 minutes then allow it to cool (do not remove the tart from the tin).
- For the jelly filling, add the cherries, raspberries, and maple syrup to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes until the volume is reduced by about half.
- Transfer the jelly to your blender and add the vanilla and agar-agar. Blend until smooth.
- Place the jelly back in the saucepan and bring it to a boil - this will activate the setting agent: agar-agar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whilst continuously whisking the mixture.
- Pour the jelly into the tart base and allow it to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before transferring it to the fridge to set for an hour.
- For the chocolate ganache, add the coconut milk to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Chop the chocolate and add it to a heat resistant bowl. Pour the hot coconut milk on top of the chocolate and stir. Add in the vanilla, salt and maple syrup and stir well until evenly combined.
- Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the jelly layer in the tart tin and gently tap the tin on your work surface to knock out any air bubbles. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring the tart to the fridge to set for 4 hours (or overnight).
- Once set, remove the tart from the tart tin and garnish with fresh berries, cherries, and freeze-dried fruit.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Chilled coconut milk: Refrigerate the tin of coconut milk overnight, then only use the thick cream from the top of the can. 1 x 400ml can generally yield up to one cup of coconut cream, depending on the brand.
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