Saturday, August 24, 2013

PEAR & HAZELNUT CREME TARTLET (topped with cocoa nibs and coconut whip)


I made a pear tartlet back in North America using vegan creme cheese. I can't really access any here that's reasonably priced, so I tried making one with a hazelnut-based filling that had the same kind of cream cheese bite. It worked out pretty well, although I recently realized that I could order cream cheese online, so I might give that a shot. It turned out well, but I think next time I'll use more of the creamy filling and keep it in the oven for slightly less time.


Ingredients

Pastry
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 + 1 T coconut oil
pinch salt
1 T brown sugar
4 T ice cold water

Filling
1 C raw hazelnuts, soaked overnight
1 C silken tofu
2 T lemon juice
1 t salt
2 T sugar
2 T soy milk
1-2 ripe pears (the riper the better)
melted butter or margarine to brush on the pears

Coconut whip
1 can coconut, chilled overnight
3 T icing sugar

Method

1. Make the pastry. I found my pastry got a little too crispy, but it was fairly flaky. I'm going to play around a bit with it. I think the trick will be to avoid handling it as much as possible after the water has been added, but handling it a little more before the water is added. I mixed everything in the food processor, and then rubbed the little beads of fat with the flour once it came out. I'm used to working with Earth Balance, and I learned to make crusts using butter, so I can't get used to the feeling of solid coconut oil which is much different. I found that the oil doesn't stick to the flour in the same way, and you want to coat the flour in the oil so it doesn't get glutinous once you add the water. Next time I'll be sure to use pastry flour, or maybe even blend in some rice flour or something with no gluten content just to make it easier. Anyhow, rubbing the oil with the flour a bit more solves this problem to some extent. Add the water just enough to form a ball. I really think the trick to any pie crust is not adding much water. I like it to barely hold together, and then when you're rolling it inevitably gets mashed together and even if the outskirts crumble and break apart, who cares. Also patching the bottom of a pie crust is better than having a tough crust, IMO. So add just enough water to be able to force it into a ball, and put it in the fridge.

2. Make the filling. Blend everything except the pears. Blend it for a long time until it's as smooth as possible. After this, I actually put it through a sieve to make it extra smooth. I saved the leftover nut pulp and spread it on some toast with some butter later. Anyhow, put it through a sieve, if you want, but this is by no means necessary.

3. Slice the pears super thin.

4. Roll the pastry. Unfortunately my tartlet pans are somewhere floating across the ocean, so I used a mini-springform pan instead. Hence the lack of aesthetic beauty. Put into your tartlet pan or pie pan or springform cake pan or whatever.

5. Add the hazelnut filling.

6. Nicely arrange the pears on top.

7. Brush on the melted vegan butter. I would also actually sprinkle a tiny bit of salt here.

8. Bake for 30 mins, or until the top starts to look a little golden and pretty.

9. While it's baking, take the coconut out of the fridge and turn over. Open the can. Pour off the liquid coconut water. Take out the coconut cream and whip it. Add the icing sugar. Continue to whip it until it actually looks just like whipped cream. Put the bowl back in the fridge until it's time to serve.


10. Remove tartlets. Let them stand for 10 mins. Take them out of their pans, place on a plate, and add a dollop of coconut whip. Throw on some cocoa nibs if you've got them.

I would recommend eating it while it's still a little warm, and letting the whip get a little melty on top.


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