Myself and my wife recently went to see 'Anna Karenina' in its last few days in the cinema. I was so taken by the opulent settings and fresh blankets of snow that it ended up feeding into my cooking. This Vanilla and Coconut Tart is elegant, crisp and white, with a deeply creamy consistency from all the coconut cream and milk. Luxurious vanilla is simply the perfect pairing for the coconut, heady, but not overpowering. This tart is also completely 'guilt free', using no sugar, wheat or dairy and yet it tastes incredibly indulgent, so no one need ever know.
This tart sets in the freezer, so be sure to take it out about 20 minutes before serving so it is still well chilled, but not frozen solid, otherwise it will not be creamy at all.
Serves 10 - 12
75g Coconut Chips of dessicated coconut
50g Pecan nuts lightly roasted
130g Dates - pitted
Half teaspoon Vanilla extract (if you can, try to use extract rather than essence as the taste is far better)
Pinch Sea salt
550ml Coconut milk
150g Creamed Cocunut (you can buy this in block form or as coconut cream in a tin, either is fine)
110g Dates - pitted
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
170g Coconut oil - this is solid at room temperature and is sometimes also referred to as coconut butter.
Pinch Sea salt
1 handful Coconut chips and/or desiccated coconut to sprinkle on top
20cm / 8 inch springform pan, greased with a little coconut oil.
For the base, start by adding the 130g of dates to the food processor and blitzing until they have ground down to a paste. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and blitz again until the whole mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs and it comes together and away from the sides of the processor. The mixture should hold together when lightly pressed between your fingers.
Pour the mixture into the lightly greased springform pan and distribute evenly, pressing down firmly so you have a smooth and even base. Wrap and place in the fridge to set while you prepare the filling.
For the filling, clean out the food processor and then add in the dates and blitz until they are ground to a thick paste. Then add in the coconut milk and cream, the vanilla extract and salt, and process again until completely smooth. If you have used the block of creamed coconut you will have to process for a longer period of time.
Place the coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) into a pan over the lowest heat possible, and warm until it has completely melted. This will not take long, so keep a close eye on it and do not let it get too hot.
Add the melted coconut oil/butter to the processor and blitz again for another 30 seconds at least, making sure to scrape down the sides so that all the ingredients are incorporated. Taste the filling and if necessary add in another very small pinch of salt to intensify the flavours.
Remove the base from the fridge and pour the filing into the pan, smoothing out the top. Very lightly scatter over some of the desiccated coconut so it covers the top, leaving the rest to scatter over just before serving.
Cover and place the tart in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until the centre has set. The tart is at its best when it is still very cold but not rock solid, so make sure to remove it from the freezer at least 20 minutes before serving. Scatter over some more desiccated coconut or coconut chips and serve immediately.