Chocolate Espresso Tart (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
I like to play with my food. Experimenting with new techniques and flavor combinations and exploring new challenges is all part of the fun for me. Of course it can be frustrating at times when things don’t work out, but there’s always a valuable lesson to be learned in the process.
When Father’s Day rolled around this year, I wanted to make something special to celebrate my wonderful coffee- and chocolate-loving Father-in-Law. That man lives on coffee. Honestly. I’ve never seen him drink anything else, except maybe a beer once or twice. He even orders coffee with his dinner! Old army habits die hard, it seems.
It just so happens that my Brother-in-Law and his wife have been experimenting with the Paleo diet lately. I knew they would be joining us for dinner, so I decided to challenge myself to make a dessert that was both delicious and mostly Paleo-friendly. (The Paleo diet centers around eating like our ancestors did, and therefore excludes all grains, dairy, and refined sugar.)
I think I came pretty darn close with this Chocolate Espresso Tart. It’s rich, decadent, but not too sweet and it will definitely make chocolate lovers happy with 3/4 pound of chocolate in it!
I used Divine chocolate because I love that they’re fairtrade and farmer-owned, but also because I love their incredibly smooth chocolate. I think the coffee flavor in the tart could have maybe been a little stronger, but I didn’t want to go overboard with the espresso and have us all jittery after dinner. The crust was also a little on the chewy side rather than crisp like I was expecting, but that may have been due to the refrigeration and/or high humidity. The cocoa nibs in the crust did give it a nice bit of texture though!
This Chocolate Espresso Tart is grain-free (and therefore gluten-free), dairy-free, and almost refined sugar free. There is some sugar in the chocolate, and I just couldn’t resist putting a tiny bit of powdered sugar in the whipped (coconut) cream topping!
Perhaps best of all, it’s pretty easy to put together. Like, easy enough that you could make it while drunk after consuming a ‘regular’ margarita that just happened to be the size of your head.
Not that I’ve ever done that.
How did my in-laws feel about the final product? Well, they didn’t say much with their mouths full but I think the nearly empty pie plate speaks for itself. Lesson learned: There’s room for chocolate in almost every diet!
Chocolate Espresso Tart (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Makes one 9-inch tart
Almond flour and coconut oil can be found in the health food section of most stores, or in natural foods stores. Coconut milk can be found in cans in the ethnic foods aisle of many grocery stores. I found espresso powder at Target. Use *real* maple syrup (the expensive stuff), not pancake syrup. Use the highest quality chocolate you can find!
The coconut whipped cream can be tricky. You *must* make it with full-fat (not lite) coconut milk, and it *must* be refrigerated until the point that it separates into a white solid (coconut cream) and an almost clear liquid (coconut water). If your coconut milk does not separate it will not whip. I always buy 2 cans just in case! I usually buy Native Forest brand.
NOTE: If you are making this to be dairy-free and gluten-free for people with food sensitivities, please be sure to check EVERY ingredient carefully. Gluten and dairy can be hidden in products you wouldn’t expect, like chocolate (dairy) and coconut milk (gluten).
2 cups (8.8 ounces) almond flour or almond meal
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs (optional)
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
12 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate (I use Divine), finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least 12 hours
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar
To make the tart shell:
Grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Pulse almond flour and salt in food processor. In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat coconut oil just until liquid (20-30 seconds on High. Do not overheat!). Stir maple syrup into melted coconut oil. With the food processor running, pour in oil mixture. Add cocoa nibs (if using) and continue to pulse until a wet dough forms. Turn dough out into prepared pan and press down firmly with fingers and/or a measuring cup. Prick all over with a fork. Chill dough for 20 minutes in the fridge. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 mins, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
To make the filling:
Place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and espresso powder. Bring to a boil. Pour hot coconut milk over chopped chocolate. Wait 2-3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Pour ganache into pre-cooked and cooled tart shell. Chill for at least one hour, or until set.
To make the espresso whipped cream:
Refrigerate an unopened can of full-fat coconut milk for at least 12 hours.
Remove can from the fridge gently, shaking it as little as possible. Remove the lid with a can opener. Using a spoon, gently scoop the solidified coconut cream off the top and into the bowl of a stand mixer, taking care to avoid as much of the liquid coconut water on the bottom as possible. (Discard or store coconut water for another use.)
Using the whisk attachment, whip coconut cream with a stand mixer until stiff peaks form – about 3-5 minutes. Add espresso powder and powdered sugar, whip to incorporate. Pipe or dollop onto tart in any decorative manner you like!