Do you see that really nicely edited photo up there? Yours truly has been practising her Photoshop skills.
Yours truly has been practising many skills lately, and is now utterly tired. Thank goodness for reading weeks. (That’s a week when you’re meant to ‘read’ or study, and do even more work than you do usually, except that there are no classes so you do actually get a breather.) I can’t wait for the Christmas period; I know lots of people find it stressful but I rather delight in the act of cooking for my loved ones, lying in front of the telly watching old favourite films, fairy lights twinkling in the background. No homework, no deadlines; just feasting and being thankful.
But that’s not for another two months. Before then, I have 13 more assignments to complete and then begin the work placements after Christmas. I am very much enjoying my studies, but I won’t lie, sometimes I need to make a beautiful salted chocolate tart to calm myself a bit. Just looking at a slice of this silky chocolate tart makes me feel more serene.
• When I say coconut cream, I mean coconut cream, not creamed coconut. The difference is monumental. Coconut cream is available from Sainsbury’s and other large supermarkets. (I use Amoy, because that is the only brand I am aware of. If you know a cheaper one, do let me know.) Alternatively, full-fat coconut milk might work, or ordinary soya cream if you really don’t like the coconut flavour, but I have not tried these.
• If you can’t bear the thought of making your own pastry case, I shan’t judge you. Buy a ready-made one, but make sure it fits your tin and is vegan.
• If you want a thicker slab of chocolate, use a smaller pie tin. You will then have some leftover shortcrust pastry (make another pie!).
For the shortcrust pastry:
225g (2 cups) plain flour
a smidge of stevia or soft, brown sugar
125g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) vegan butter
You can make the shortcrust pastry either in a food processor or in a bowl. If the former, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they begin to form a dough. If the latter, place the ingredients in a large bowl and, with the pads of your fingers, rub together the flour and butter until they resemble wet sand. Add a splodge of water if your dough is too dry and crumbly.
Lightly flour a clean surface. Roll out your dough roughly into a large circle, about 1/2 a centimetre thick. Drape it inside a 29cm (11.5 inch) greased pie tin. Fill with baking beans and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC (356ºF) for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For the salted chocolate:
250g (8.8 oz) good quality dark chocolate
250ml (1 cup) coconut cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt flakes, plus etra for garnish
Pour the coconut cream into a wee saucepan over medium heat. Roughly chop the chocolate, toss the pieces into the cream and leave it alone. Soon enough the chocolate will start to ooze into the cream, at which point you may begin to swirl the pan to help the chocolate blend with the cream. Or just use a wooden spoon.
Take the pan off the heat, fold in the maple syrup and sea salt, and after a final stir, set aside to cool.
When the chocolate is properly cooled, pour into the cooked pastry case and place in the fridge. Depending on how cold your fridge is, it will take between 2 and 4 hours to fully set. You can test the firmness of your tart by shaking it side to side; if the chocolate wobbles, it’s not ready yet.
Sprinkle sea salt flakes over your tart and serve cold.
What makes you feel serene?