Little words can describe this tart. It’s one of those recipes that was carefully concocted in my mind over the course of two months, each piece awaiting to be assembled into its rightful spot. We even got a pan specifically for this dessert – now that’s dedication to the cause. And it all started out with the simple idea of a chocolate cream pie.
The crust is of the “raw vegan cheesecake” variety, which are usually composed of dates and crushed up nuts. This type of crust is great because it’s chewy, lightly crunchy, sweet, and 80% easier to make than a flour crust (statistic still waiting approval). Depending on your filling, you can choose a nut that will compliment its flavors accordingly, so we went with a half & half mixture of toasted hazelnuts and toasted pecans. Chocolate hazelnut is a classic combination that doesn’t need much explaining and toasted pecans accentuate the deepness of the dark chocolate.
Speaking of chocolate, we have two different types of chocolate going on here: dark-ish chocolate (60-70% cacao) and white chocolate. Dark chocolate chips are melted into the filling main, which is a firm custard comprised of coconut milk for it’s fat content, erythritol for added sweetness, agar agar (seaweed-based gelatin replacement) for stability, and salt because chocolate needs salt like milk does a cookie.
The white chocolate mixture has a similar formula, only with melted cacao butter is its base, tapioca starch as a stabilizer, vanilla extract to enhance the cacao’s sweet aroma, and no salt, because cacao butter doesn’t have the bitter properties that cacao solids do.
Okay, I feel like I may have created more questions than I did answers. Let’s start off with what separates dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Of course, different manufactures add different binders, sweeteners, and flavorings into their chocolates, but at the bare minimum, dark chocolate is a cohesive mix of cacao solids, cacao butter, and a sweetener (unless you’re purchasing 100% dark chocolate). The higher the percentage of cacao solids, the darker and bitter the chocolate is, so if you’re not too into heavy cacao flavor then you’d want to go with something around 60%, but if you embrace cacao’s intensity, then something around 80% would be perfect for you. If you drop the percentage lower than 60%, you have to add milk powder to create a stable mixture, which is when it becomes milk chocolate. Now, decrease the cacao solids all the way to 0% and you have white chocolate: a creamy, melt in your mouth treat comprised of cacao butter, sweetener, and some form of milk powder. As you can see, chocolate is defined by its ratio of cacao solids to cacao butter, and as long as it contains one or the other, it’s still considered chocolate.
Now to answer another question you may have: what in the world is agar agar? To answer that, I’ll quote a post from our own blog:
“As compared to gelatin, the only main differences is where the two come from and how to cook with them. Agar comes from algae, whereas gelatin is derived from collagen inside animals’ skin and bones. When cooking agar, you must bring whatever you put it into to a boil to allow solids to dissolve, as compared to gelatin, which can be easily dissolved in warm liquids. You can find agar in places like Whole Foods, specialty groceries, and of course, the internet.”
Unlike starches, agar thickens in a way that’s more jello-like than it is pudding-like, which makes it perfect for creating a soft but solid chocolate filling.
Okay, now that you’ve got your fill of knowledge in, I bet your ready to get your fill of dessert in! All in all, this tart:
- is a no-bake dessert
- is elegant and mildly sweet
- has a no-fuss crust
- is vegan, gluten-free, and lectin-limited
If you like what your tastebuds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Dessert,
Chocolate Marble Tart with Toasted Hazelnut Date Crust
Chewy & nutty crust, rich dark chocolate filling, and sweet white chocolate topping.
- 1 1/2 c pitted dates (packed)
- 1 c hazelnuts
- 1 c pecans
- Pinch of salt
- 1 c full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsps granular Swerve (can substitute with cane sugar or coconut sugar)
- 3/4 tsps agar agar powder
- Pinch of salt
- 5 oz chocolate chips (60-70%)
White Chocolate Layer
- 52 g (1/4 c) cacao butter
- 1/4 c full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsps powdered Swerve (can substitute with powdered sugar)
- 1/2 tsp tapioca starch
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- fresh cherries
- powdered Swerve
- crushed hazelnuts
- date & nut balls (instructions below)
- Crust: Pre-heat oven to 325° F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread out hazelnuts & pecans on prepped sheet. Once oven’s heated, roast nuts until they’re fragrant and darkened in color; about 9 minutes.
- While nuts roast, soak dates in hot water from the tap for 5 minutes. Drain out the water and squeeze the dates to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Add nuts to the bowl of a food processor and blitz a couple times until they’re broken into small pieces. Add dates plus a medium pinch of salt and process until dates are mostly smooth and nuts are fine with small chunks throughout, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds or so; about 3 minutes in total.
- Place about 2/3 of the crust mixture into a 14 x 4.5 x 1 inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom or a 9 1/2 x 1 inch round tart pan. Press crust down and around to fit the bottom of the pan. Crust layer should about 1/2 inch thick.
- Save remaining 1/3 of crust to form into balls for decorating. To do this, grab a little piece of dough, roll it into a sphere, and set aside. Repeat for remaining dough. Place crust in fridge while preparing fillings.
- Dark Chocolate Filling: Combine coconut milk, Swerve, agar agar, and a small pinch of salt until in a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat. Whisk continuously until a boil is achieved, then kill the heat.
- Put chocolate chips in a medium bowl, pour hot coconut milk mixture atop of chocolate, and allow to sit for 5 minutes without stirring. Then, stir until mixture is smooth.
- Pour chocolate mixture into tart pan immediately to avoid it setting in the bowl.
- White Chocolate Layer: Melt cacao butter in a small pot over low heat, stirring constantly. As soon as it’s mostly melted, add in coconut milk, powdered Swerve, tapioca starch, vanilla, and whisk until it’s smooth; 1 more minute.
- Pour white chocolate mixture atop of chocolate layer and tilt pan to evenly spread it out.
- Serving: Place it in the freezer to set completely for four hours.* Decorate with powdered Swerve, crushed hazelnuts, fresh cherries, and date & nut balls from step 5.
- Allow it to thaw at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying. Store in the freezer in plastic bags or air tight containers for up to 1 month.
*Once the tart has set, you can store it in the fridge or in the freezer, depending on your preference. Personally, I like the consistency and temperature of the “frozen & thawed” variant more than I do than the fridge variant, but it’s up to you.