January 13, 2009

Vegan Orange Cream Tarts w/ Almond Crusts

Last year I was excited to hear about a new dairy-free yogurt made with coconut milk, though it was awhile before it finally made it to stores in Michigan. I jumped at the chance to buy some when it first showed up in our local Whole Foods. At first, the only flavors I could find were plain, vanilla and passion-mango. The vanilla was a hit with my husband and I loved the passion mango but Alex, my dairy allergic son, wasn't interested in any of them. Finally this December, I got a hold of some of the blueberry and raspberry and Alex loves it. I think it's great that he can have yogurt, get the probiotics and not add yet another soy-based product to his diet.

I've been thinking for some time about how I could use this yogurt in a recipe. Then I saw a blog event on Tony Tahhan's site. The event is A Taste of the Mediterranean and the first month's host is Fanny of Foodbeam. The theme is tarts and I knew I could use the yogurt as a tart filling. My hope was that the vanilla flavor, with faint hint of coconut, would work well with orange in a custard filled tart. I used an almond tart shell recipe I've been working the kinks out of and it came out great this time. I tore apart my pantry looking for that little box of agar for the filling but alas it has gone the way of single socks in the dryer. Instead of waiting until I could get new agar, I chose to thicken the custard with cornstarch. To top it all off, I used up the last of gifted marmalade from my parents. These were toasty, creamy, crunchy and sweet and best of all reminiscent of an Orange Julius. It'll take some experimenting but coconut milk frozen yogurt is now just on the horizon. Any other ideas that I should try?

Vegan Orange Cream Tarts with Almond Crusts

Makes 12 mini (1 1/2 inch) tarts

1 (6oz) container of So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt
1 tablespoon Earth Balance margarine
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch (or tapioca starch)
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
4-5 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 batch of baked almond mini tart shells (recipe follows)

-Prepare tart shells as directed and allow to cool most of the way. Warm 1 tablespoon of the marmalade in the microwave (~10 seconds) or warm in a pan. Brush the inside of the empty tart shells with marmalade and set aside.
-Add the yogurt and margarine to a small saucepan. Stir together the orange juice and cornstarch until there are no lumps and then add to the pan and stir everything together.
-Heat over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook for ~1 minute or until the mixture thickens.
-Remove from the heat and add the orange zest. Cool for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
-Spoon the filling into the tart shells and chill. You could use the refrigerator for ~30 minutes but I popped them in the freezer for 10 minutes, just until the custard sets some on top.
-Warm the remaining marmalade and spoon a small puddle on top of each tart.
-Store in the refrigerator. **Update: These are even better the next day!

Almond Tart Crust
Makes enough for 12 mini (1 1/2 inch) tart shells

5 tablespoons almond meal (blanced ground almonds)
4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine (or butter)
1 teaspoon of flax seed mixed with 2 teaspoons of warm tap water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and mix together your flax seed meal and water.
-Pulse the almond meal, sugar and flour in a food processor until evenly mixed together. Or whisk together in a bowl.
-Add the margarine (or butter) and pulse until sandy and there are no large lumps of margarine or butter remaining. This can also be done with a pastry cutter or two forks.
-Stir together the extracts with the flax seed mixture and pour over the top of the flour mixture and process until larger clumps form. Or stir together with a spoon.
-Place a heaping tablespoon of the dough in each tart and then evenly distribute any extra dough. Tamp down the dough with a clean, floured spice jar or use your fingers or a spoon.
-Dock the tart shells, IE prick several times with a fork. Bake for 11-13 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
-Cool and fill.

Tamped and docked tart shells before baking

Tony Tahhan
So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan, the pan I used.