Friday, November 20, 2009

Vegan Dark Chocolate Almond Tart with a Pastry Crust!

Welcome to day 5 of our Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner Party! It's time for dessert! Today I am going to share a favorite recipe for the holidays. It is a rich chocolaty tart meant to be shared among many.

It was one of those recipes that came to me in a flash of inspiration around midnight the night before Thanksgiving last year. I was up late baking yummy vegan, gluten-free pumpkin and apple pies, soft molasses cookies, and pumpkin cake to bring to our large Gluten-Free Thanksgiving gathering of friends. I began tossing ingredients for a tart crust together, measuring as I was going, and then whipped up a filling to go with it. It ended up being every one's favorite dessert and I hope you'll like it too!

FYI: This isn’t really a kid-friendly dessert, unless that is, you have an almost 2-year old (or in my case two of them) – who happens to stumble upon chocolate (i.e. crack for children) and grabs the whole slice off the counter (the one on the plate that you are about to take a photo of) and stuffs the whole thing in his mouth as fast as he can before anyone sees him. Not that this happened to me. So who knows you might have a child that likes this rich chocolate tart. My girls won’t touch it. The crust however, they pick off and eat like candy!

The first time I made this crust I did not use any xanthan gum, and it worked. But since then I have made it several times and found that adding 1/2 teaspoon does help with the overall integrity of the crust.

Since I use cashews in the filling I decided to also share one of my vegan pastry creams to use with the crust instead of the chocolate tart filling. I know there are many people reading this blog allergic to cashews and I want to make sure everyone can enjoy this awesome tart crust. After the crust has been baked and cooled, use the pastry cream to fill the crust then top with sliced pears and pomegranate arils and a dusting of cinnamon! Enjoy!

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free Tart Crust

This recipe works for an 11-inch tart pan. It can be frozen before it has been baked in a sealed container. Then just thaw and roll when you are ready to use it.
½ cup superfine brown rice flour
½ cup superfine sweet rice flour
½ cup millet flour
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup organic cane sugar, maple sugar, or coconut sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
¾ cup organic palm shortening
½ cup non-dairy milk (unsweetened hemp milk)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Place the flours, potato starch, sugar, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum into a bowl and whisk together well. Cut in the shortening with your fingers or a pastry cutter until some fine, and some pea-sized crumbs are formed.

Mix together the milk and vinegar and then add them to the flour mixture. Quickly mix in using a fork or spoon. If needed, add more hemp milk, a teaspoon at a time, just until the dough holds together. Form dough into a ball and chill for about 20 minutes. Do NOT overwork the dough.

Roll the dough in between two pieces of waxed paper into about a 12 to 13-inch circle. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper and gently lift up the dough and flip onto the tart pan. Peel off the second layer of waxed paper and gently ease the dough into the pan, pressing it into the edges.

Trim off any remaining dough around the top edges. Prick a few times with a fork. Bake for 30 minutes on a baking sheet. Cool completely before adding your filling. Roll out extra dough and sprinkle with cinnamon, bake until slightly crisp around the edges for a treat! Source:

Dark Chocolate Almond Cranberry Tart

I created this recipe very late the night before one Thanksgiving. It was perfect for our large gathering of 20 plus gluten-free friends. They all enjoyed it and I am sure you will too. You can vary the ingredients in the filling. Try replacing the cranberries with dried cherries and the almonds with hazelnuts or cashews. The filling is dark and rich and not very sweet. If you would like a sweeter filling, then I think adding up to 1/4 cup more sweetener would work.

1 cup raw almonds, roasted and coarsely chopped (see note)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
¼ cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey
10 ounces dark chocolate (Dagoba Choco Drops)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Roast (see note below) and cool the almonds. then chop. Place the chopped almonds and dried cranberries in a bowl and set aside.

Place the cashews, water, and sweetener into a blender or Vita-Mix and blend until very smooth and creamy. Pour into a small pot and place over low heat. Add the chocolate. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted. Turn off heat and stir in the vanilla.

Sprinkle the almond-cranberry mixture over the bottom of the baked tart shell. Then pour in the chocolate mixture.

Chill for at least 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Before serving, pop tart out of the pan and place onto a serving platter. Slice into thin wedges and enjoy!

Note: To roast the almonds, place them in a single layer in a baking dish. Roast at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Cool on a plate, and then chop. Source:

An alternative to the chocolate filling.....

Nut-Free, Vegan Vanilla Pastry Cream

This luscious yet simple vegan pastry cream works well in my tart crust. Simply fill the crust with this cream and top with your favorite summer fruits!

one 14-ounce can regular coconut milk
¼ cup agave nectar or honey
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon sea salt

Place all of the ingredients into medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together well. Turn heat to medium-high and whisk. Lower the heat after mixture is bubbling, then continue to whisk and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes total.

Remove from heat and let cool before pouring into the crust. After you place the pastry cream into the cooled crust, top with your favorite summer fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries). Sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

Variation: Add ¼ teaspoon lemon flavoring or ¼ teaspoon orange flavoring for a rich citrus-flavored cream. Source:

More delicious gluten-free, vegan holiday dessert recipes:

Where to Stop Next:

Next stop ~ Karen and Jean will also be serving DESSERT today, Friday, Nov. 20 at Cook4Seasons and Gluten Free Organics.

Don't forget to stop by the rest of our blogs this week for more of our Gluten Free Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner Party. Here's the schedule:

Jean and I served DRINKS on Monday, Nov. 16 at Gluten Free Organics and The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

Karen, Jean, and Seamaiden served APPETIZERS on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Cook4Seasons, Gluten Free Organics and Book of Yum.

Shirley and I served the MAIN COURSE on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at gfe-gluten free easily and The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

Diane, Stephanie, Shauna, and I served the SIDE DISH/SALAD on Nov. 19 at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, A Year of Slow Cooking, Gluten Free Girl, and The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

Karen, Jean, and I are serving DESSERT today, Nov. 20 at Cook4Seasons, Gluten Free Organics, and The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen.

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Oh my goodness, you continue to outdo yourself! I can't wait to try this--or to buy your new baking book!! Do you have an ETA for it?

  2. Love this, love this! Thanks for another great recipe - my mouth is watering, and I can't wait to use this as inspiration for a tasty tart for my family this holiday. YUM!

  3. I'm really looking forward to trying out that pastry cream. How long do you think it would keep in the fridge? Two or three days?

    Thanks so much for the recipes!

  4. Another amazing photo (love the chocolate against that red background!) and recipe! I think you guys eat the most nutrient-dense and most delicious food of any family I know. Love that!

    I'm a little sad that it's the end of our Thanksgiving Progressive dinner, but you might be ready for a break. ;-) You sure had a workout this week, dear. Thanks for all your hard work!


  5. I'm sure I've told you this before, but you are literally a godsend to me with your flavorful gluten-free and often vegan recipes (although I do occasionally eat fish, PERFECT! You also have fish recipes!)
    I love your photos, your alternative options that you list, and basically, I just love you guys for making my life easier and more fun!
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  6. I have been waiting for this since yesterday and it looks fabulous - I will definitely make this for Thanksgiving dinner! I am anxious to share all of these great recipes with family and to give thanks to you and your talent! Thanks for all that you give us ~ hopefully we give back to you with our gratitude and appreciation.

  7. Oh my goodness. Its mouthwatering, and I'm sure delicious =D.

  8. Thanks again for all of the lovely comments!

    Hallie - The pastry cream will keep for at least 4 days in the fridge. However, I find that it is best to spread it on the crust just hours after chilling. You will want to serve it soon after that otherwise the crust will start to get soggy. Hope this helps!

    Enjoy the tart! :)

  9. Looks awesome Ali.I will try this out for christmas dinner. My extended family won't know it's gluten free!

  10. This is the BEST gluten free bread ever!!!! I am preparing to take my kids off of gluten and dairy after the first of the year. So, I made a loaf of this today, and both my daughters said they would happily give up wheat bread for this! The flavor is excellent, and best of all there is no pasty aftertaste! Yeah! Thank you so much for sharing.

    However, I do have a few issues I could use some help with:

    1) The loaf only ever rose to be flat - even with the top of the pan.

    2) The loaf fell in the middle about half way through baking. *I did use 1/4 c. less water, but added 1 egg, as well as the 2T. of flax in with the dry ingredients.

    3) After baking the bread for an hour, it is still wet in the middle.

    I'm wondering if I should cut back even more on the water, or if I would be better cutting out 1 T. of the honey, or oil. Any suggestions. If i could get this to rise nicely it would literally be the perfect bread...wheat or gluten! : )

    ~ Andrea

  11. YUM! Do you think I could use Coconut Oil instead of Palm Shortening? I find that hard to get in New Zealand. Thanks!!

  12. Ali-

    I made the filling last night and it didn't set. I used agave nectar, but would that be too runny compared to syrup or honey? Or maybe I should have decreased the amount of water?

  13. How do you think that this crust would do for savory empanadas, minus the sugar?

    Do you think it is necessary to use superfine mills in empanada pastry dough?

    I have tried twice using different pre-mixed flours and also different levels of fat. The one I did with 8 Tbs of less fat (1 stick vs 2) was pretty dry crust. I needed to back it longer, too, so maybe that is the dryness factor.


  14. I made this crust today (amazing!), and I bet it would work for emapanadas....but the trick is handling the dough...which is tricky!! Good gave me an idea try this with my old favorite empanada recipe...thanks!

  15. This is truly one of my favorites! Just wanted to add my feedback having made this with unsweetened chocolate - I cut back on the water by a 1/4 cup, and increased the liquid sweetener to a total of ~3/4 cup (maybe a little more), using a combo of maple syrup and agave. Absolutely amazing! Served it with whipped coconut cream on top. Delicious!


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)