I recently went gluten-free. Yes, I’ll still be baking with wheat to share recipes with you on the blog, but for my own purposes, eliminating gluten from my diet has done a world of good. The benefits have been pretty staggering, and I’ve finally stopped feeling like “I’m just doing this because it’s the trendy thing.” Even under the advice of a doctor, I thought, “This is stupid.” I don’t have a wheat allergy, I don’t have celiac, how could a mild intolerance be an actual problem? My brother was once given a pair of shoes for an opera performance and they were far too small. The costumer’s response? “Suffer for art!!” And cooking is my art, after all.
Turns out it was affecting me in more ways than I realized, and needless to say I’m pretty glad I listened and tried.
I was initially annoyed, and then decided to see the situation as an opportunity. I would try new foods, post new recipes, and just…play in the kitchen. My only rule was to avoid the gluten-free baking mixes or specialty pre-packaged cookies. The last thing I wanted was to incorporate a lot of potato and cornstarch into my diet instead of using more whole grains in general. After a few days of perusing and one or two brief experiments…something magical happened.
What would you think if I told you that I could make the best candy bar in the world without a drop of flour, butter, or refined sweetener? Perhaps you might run screaming in the other direction, but then you wouldn’t get any and that would be very, very sad. Because it is literally one of the best tarts I have ever made. It may even trump the Nutella tart. This is basically my favorite candy bar turned into a pastry that will truly knock your socks off. Caramel, chocolate, and nuts…what’s not to like? I must be on to something, because it disappeared before my eyes when shared with friends.
Date-Almond Butter Caramel and Chocolate Tart
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups finely ground almonds
- ½ cup toasted, shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 2 tbsp. grade b maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- Pinch of salt
For the caramel filling:
- 10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
- 6 tbsp. almond butter
- 6 tbsp. grade b maple syrup
- 4 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
For the chocolate ganache
- 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 1/3 cup light or regular coconut milk
- Grade b maple syrup to taste (I used maybe a tsp.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients for the crust in a food processor and blend well.
Prepare the caramel by combining the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and salt in a food processor and blend well.
And there you have it, a delicious surprise that you can share with all of your gluten-free, vegan, or paleo friends. Nothing fake, no special ingredients, just good stuff that happens to be pretty good for you. Sort of.
This whole experience has reminded me of the importance of creativity and ingenuity. I was so thankful once I began looking at the situation it through a different lens, and even though I know there’s nothing that will stop me from baking bread or craving pizza every so often, I can accept that by remembering that I can always cook, have a taste, and share with others. What an energizing lesson!
Ciao for now,