I served up this Vegan Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with a Shortbread Crust after keeping Jay in suspense for two whole days, because I couldn’t find a time to get Desi to shoot the photos. I felt a little evil, but I lied to my son that the longer it sat in the refrigerator, the better it would taste, and although I don’t think he believed me at first, he probably did after he got a taste of it. This is dee-lee-shus, mom, he declared.
I wanted to create a smooth chocolate dessert because I love chocolate and if there’s one flavor I love with chocolate, it’s got to be hazelnuts (have you tried my double chocolate hazelnut cookies?) The three-ingredient shortbread crust comes together in a food processor and takes barely five minutes to make, if that. All I really had to do for the filling was blitz up some hazelnuts and water to make a hazelnut cream, and then pass it through the strainer. The only other ingredients required were maple syrup, semisweet chocolate, and a touch of vanilla. Oh, and some pink Himalayan salt, although sea salt would do just as nicely.
This tart made for a very happy Saturday dessert for us, after Desi had shot the photos. In the meantime, I pretty much mauled the tart every which way I could: I tried carrying it to the refrigerator before the chocolate had set, sploshing some of the filling over the side. I tried covering it up with cling wrap when it was only half set, and the wrap pulled up part of the glossy-smooth chocolate. Finally, as I carried the tart to the table, I pressed down on the crust because I was lost in conversation, chipping away part of the crust. Despite all that it survived and managed to look elegant enough to make my little critic — and the big one — happy.
Because of how easy this tart is to make, and how beautiful it looks, and how great it tastes, it would be the perfect dessert to impress your Thanksgiving guests. Or just make it for yourself, curl up on the couch with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and dig in.
Vegan Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Tart
- For the shortbread crust:
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
- 8 tbsp or 1 stick vegan butter or margarine straight from the refrigerator
- For the chocolate filling:
- 1 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
- 1 cup hazelnuts soaked in water for an hour
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt or sea salt flakes
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Make the shortbread crust:
- Cut the butter into 1-cm cubes and place in the food processor along with the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times, for a few seconds each time, until the dough forms clumps.
- Take an eight-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Empty all of the filling into the the tart pan and then, working from the center, press the dough evenly around the bottom and the sides of the tart pan. When you have a fairly even layer, use a spoon or spatula to smooth it out.
- Pierce the bottom of the tart shell several times with the tines of a fork. This will keep it from puffing up when you bake.
- Cover the tart pan with cling wrap and freeze it for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 18 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.
- Make the chocolate-hazelnut filling:
- Drain the hazelnuts from the soaking water, then place it in a high-powered blender with 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend until very smooth.
- Strain the hazelnut paste through a medium sieve. I really only do this to get any big bits of skin out. The strained paste will be quite thick, like the consistency of pancake batter.
- Heat the hazelnut paste in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble, which it will quite fast. Don't leave it unsupervised.
- Once the hazelnut paste has heated, stir in the chocolate chips, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Turn off the heat and mix until the filling is very smooth.
- Pour the filling into the tart shell and after about an hour carefully transfer to the refrigerator where it should remain for at least six hours until it's completely chilled and the filling is set. Dust with some cocoa powder, if you wish.
- Remove the tart from the pan and slice.