It’s my sister’s birthday on Wednesday, and I have a bit of a tradition here, especially since we moved away, to share a recipe for something that I’d make for her if I lived nearby. Last year I did a vegan chocolate snack cake and before that, grain free black forest cupcakes. She doesn’t follow a specific diet, but is a bit of a flexitarian these days and generally avoids dairy and sometimes gluten.
I know a lot of people think birthdays are for going all out but I’m a big believer in feeling good on your birthday! So if you know dairy makes your stomach upset, or wheat gives you a headache, or refined sugar makes you sluggish, maybe you don’t want to feel that way on your birthday and ruin the day a bit.
Or any day, really, and those feelings become more obvious the longer you avoid those foods because you have a new normal. Although this truffle tart is a healthier recipe, sweetened just with a little maple syrup and quite high in protein and healthy fats, it’s a nice option for a special day (but simple enough for any day).
This recipe kicks out most of those foods that tend to cause problems, with a grain free coconut flour base and coconut milk ganache filling. The thing is, chocolate is the saving grace of many healthier recipes, and you’d never notice!
Not that healthy food that is obviously healthy is bad, but sometimes you just want a dessert that ticks all the boxes or that you can bring to a party and know everyone will love without asking if it’s vegan/GF/whatever. This is one of those desserts.
This chocolate hazelnut tart is excellent whether you have dietary restrictions or not – I first made it when I was back home in the summer, and my butter obsessed parents scarfed it down. Using a hazelnut cookie as the base was inspired by a reader, who took my ultimate peanut butter cookies and made a tart with that dough as a base a while back. It’s made with coconut flour and maple syrup for a really simple, healthy press-in tart shell.
I think hazelnut butter is the nicest choice here, but other nut butters are great too. Peanut, almond, even sunflower seed butter, all pair well with the chocolate ganache. Just note that depending on the consistency of your nut/seed butter you might have to add an extra splash of milk. Use runny nut butter if you can instead of the hard bit at the bottom of the jar. The base is more chewy than crisp, but the edge bits are a bit snappy.
The tart isn’t particularly large. It’s very rich, with the chocolate truffle filling and hazelnut base, so you just need a small piece. I took these photos during currant season, and while topping with a little fruit isn’t mandatory, it’s a good idea. A touch of acidity from fruit helps to cut through the richness. At this time of year some citrus would be good, like in this chocolate orange tart, or persimmon, or frozen berries.
To make the chocolate hazelnut tart, you mix up the cookie base, press it into a springform, and bake for about 25 minutes. That’s the total oven time. After that, it’s cooling the shell, then filling with the easy ganache mixture, and leaving it until it’s set. Since you don’t have to roll pastry, or make a custard, or blind bake, it’s a very low stress recipe. No worries if the dough isn’t pressed in a perfectly even layer, either.
For the ganache, you heat coconut milk to a simmer and pour it over chopped dark chocolate. Give it a whisk, add a little vanilla, and you’re done. The trick to a good ganache is never to heat the chocolate, just the milk. It’s also much better with bar chocolate instead of chips, which have a stabilizer added so they don’t melt easily. If you need things to cool faster you can pop the finished tart in the freezer for half an hour and then refrigerate until solid, but once the ganache is set, you can leave the tart out at room temperature for a while.
It’s a simple, easy recipe, but the end result is surprisingly high impact, understated and elegant. Just right for an adult’s birthday or something like a wedding shower, but effortless enough for a weekend treat.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
Hazelnut Cookie Base
- 400 ml / 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 100 grams / 1 bar dark chocolate
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Maple syrup to sweeten optional
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a 20cm (8 inch) springform pan.
- In a large bowl, stir together the hazelnut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, milk, oil, vanilla, and salt. The mixture will thicken as you stir and form into a ball of dough.
- Press the dough into the prepared springform pan, in an even layer, with 3cm / 1 inch high sides.
- Poke several holes into the base of the tart with a fork, then bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden.
- Remove the tart shell and cool for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the pan and cooling fully.
- To make the ganache, finely chop the chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- Add the coconut milk (the whole can, including water) to a small saucepan. Heat over low medium until simmering. Pour the milk over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 30 seconds, then whisk until a smooth, even mixture forms. Whisk in the vanilla and sweeten to taste if desired.
- Pour the ganache into the tart base, and cool until fully set. This will take at least two hours in the refrigerator. To speed things up, freeze for 30 minutes before refrigerating.
- Serve from the refrigerator, topped with fruit. This is best eaten the day it's made, but will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days.