25 April 2012

Raw Apple Pie Tarts

My goodness! I can't believe it has been over a week since I've posted. I suppose I've been caught up in trip planning, my girl bff's upcoming nuptials, extra teaching, summer program planning... and despite being fairly well-organized, I've still felt as though something was not quite right - missing.
Uh... yeah... THIS.
I haven't been in the kitchen to actually prepare a dish. A gathering had been set for this past Sunday, and I was planning on preparing some fun, chocolatey treats, the recipe of which would then find it's way to being shared here. Alas the gathering was cancelled, and the chocolatey treats were (temporarily) abandoned.1

This, however, may have been fortuitous2 because I'd been postponing another recipe... or more appropriately, I waited to share it and was then distracted by other recipes I was creating. So, this presentation is brought to you by a specifically arranged series of events/occurrences.

I know. A small dessert. Why are all of the "dessert" items I make small?
Someone might say it's because I'm small. I say that small things are cute.
And I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I've also been known to a bite or two of a sweet and then try to pass the rest to the nearest bystander (usually the BFF). Small treats eliminate that tendency.

In addition to being nut free, I'd say these tarts fall are somewhat closer to a fruit salad than a pastry. They're quite fresh and light. The crust isn't heavy. The fruit isn't overly sweet or bogged down under a thick, syrupy "glaze". I made a batch for our YTT graduation party, and despite my last-minute concerns over bringing a raw dessert, they were very well-received.

Don't be intimidated by the number of steps/prep time required. They're really not at all difficult to prepare.
I actually thought later that they would be quite nice crumbled (or smushed) over a chia pudding or raw ice cream. Although, after taking the time to put them together so nicely, it would be a shame to just smash them up. They could make a nice presentation sitting atop a scoop of raw ice cream... OR if a crumbled topping idea does sound interesting at all, you can (of course) prepare the components as directed and skip the crust pressing and assembly steps :-)

For our current purposes, however, we are going to continue with pies!3

Mini Raw Apple Tarts
(makes 12)

For the Filling
  • 3 large Granny Smith or Fuji Apples
  • 6-8 (75g) Pitted Dates
  • 1/2 Cup Filtered Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • dash of Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • pinch Sea Salt
For the Crust
  • 1 1/2 Cups (120g) Shredded Coconut
  • 5-6 (40g) Pitted Dates
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
For the (optional) Creme Topping
  • 1 Young Coconut (Meat & Water)
  • 2 tsp Ground White Chia (black chia is fine; it will just make the topping more "speckled")
  • Seeds from 1/3 Vanilla Pod (or 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract)
  • pinch Sea Salt

Soak the dates (for the filling only) in the 1/2 cup of water for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Peel, core, and dice the apples into small, bite-sized pieces.

In a blender or mini blender, puree the soaked dates, with their soaking water, until smooth. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, lemon juice, and salt; give the blender a a few quick pulses to make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Add the date mixture to the diced apples, and gently stir enough to ensure the all of apples are evenly coated. Allow the apples to marinate, covered in the refrigerator, for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Wait until the apples have marinated sufficiently, before you begin to prepare the crust.

In a blender or mini blender using the grind attachment, pulse the shredded coconut until it develops a fine, more flour-like consistency. Take care not to over-blend, or it will begin to turn into coconut butter.

Add the coconut, dates, coconut oil, vanilla and salt to a food processor, and blend until the dates have combined smoothly and evenly. If your dates are on the harder/drier side, soak them in room temperature, filtered water for 10-15 minutes; remove them from the soaking water before blending with the other crust ingredients.

Use a mini tart pan, or line 12 muffin tins with muffin cups. Press the crust mixture evenly into the tins/cups to create a crust that is approximately 1/8" thick. If using muffin cups, create a crust that is between 1/2" to 3/4" tall.
When all the crusts are prepared, spoon the apple filling into each crust, allowing the filling to come slightly above the rim of the crust. Allow the tarts to chill and set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.
Trim any excess paper from the muffin liners, once the tarts are set.

If using/adding the Creme Topping, set the tarts in the refrigerator, while you prepare as follows:
Crack open the coconut. Pour the coconut water into a separate bowl, and scoop out the coconut meat.

In a high-powered blender, combine the coconut meat, chia, vanilla and salt, along with half of the coconut water.The goal is to blend the coconut meat until it is completely smooth. The trick is to use as little liquid as possible, in order to retain a thick consistency. This may require some patience.

If you find the mixture getting stuck or unable to blend, gradually add some of the remaining coconut water, in small increments - just enough to get the mixture blending.

Once the mixture is well-blended and smooth, spoon a dollop onto each tart, and allow the tarts to continue to chill for the recommended time (above).
Feel free to blend in a few drops of stevia, a couple teaspoons of coconut nectar, or 1-2 soaked dates, if you prefer a sweeter creme.

1. Fear not, dear readers. Those treats are on their way, so keep an eye out :-) 
2. You decide.
3. Tiny pies, obviously.

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