11 February 2012

coconut cream tarts

Last Monday I dove headfirst into a lifestyle and culinary adventure: the dreaded Elimination Diet. Forsaking all gluten, dairy, egg, soy, corn, oranges, peanuts, sugars, processed oils, chocolate and caffeine has been a challenge. Eating out is nearly impossible, snacks on the table in the staff room forbidden. Pasta? Bread? Soy latte???? Forget it. But thanks to many delicious recipes found on my new love- pinterest- I haven't starved. In fact, in spite of all the work eating now takes, I believe that I am thriving.

This whole process is something I'm undertaking to see if I can shed some light on the allergies, asthma, eczema and chronic hoarseness that have been sneaking back into play over the past few months. I haven't cheated yet, because cheating just means it won't work as well, and I am determined to find some answers. Who knows what I will find but I will do my best.

As someone who loves food, especially desserts and pastries, I have had to find a way around these ingredients while coming up with something that still passes for delicious. Thanks to recipes like this one, I am able to quench the sweet tooth within.

One taste and I doubt you would believe what's missing from this tart! There are two slices left in my fridge and I can hardly wait til after dinner tonight. I may go steal a piece of crust right now.

Coconut Cream Tarts
Dairy free, optional gluten & sugar free
adapted loosely from Heidi Swansen and Carol Kicinski
Makes 4 – 4 inch or 1 – 8 inch tart(s)

1+ ¾ cups unsweetened coconut flakes – divided
2 cups all purpose flour OR gluten free flour mixture- I used equal parts Oat, Sorghum, Sweet Rice and Millet flour. If going GF, also add 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup agave nectar OR brown sugar, divided
1 – 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
¼ cup tapioca starch or corn starch
¼ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 cup of the coconut on a sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Toast the coconut in the oven until it is fragrant and lightly browned, 8 – 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking for even browning. Reserve ¼ cup of the toasted coconut for garnish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of the toasted coconut with the flour or flours and xanthan gum and 1/4 cup brown sugar if using. Mix in melted coconut oil and 1/4 cup agave (if using) until the dough becomes crumbly. Press into four 4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms, an 8 inch tart pan or even a 9 inch pie plate, making sure to get the mixture up the sides as well as on the bottom. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. 

In a medium saucepan whisk together the coconut milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar or agave, tapioca starch and salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, just about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. You can press the mixture through a sieve if you like to make sure there are no lumps. Stir in the ½ cup of coconut flakes you did not toast. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan(s) or pie plate. Let the tart cool in the fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with reserved toasted coconut flakes.

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