Have I got something sweet and wonderful to share with you today!
I don't know about you, but I adore autumn. This weekend I managed to escape life's craziness for a while and went for a long forest walk with my buddy Siddhi. It was such a beautiful day and I returned home with my pockets full of wild chestnuts and my lungs high on the wonderful, fresh air and earthy scents of the fall season.
Aside from my vegan hacker's ambitions I also wanted to make something especially festive for the upcoming Holidays. And then it suddenly occurred to me that while pecan pie might be a star spangled classic, we Belgians have a fantastic type of caramelised gingerbread we call speculoos which defines our Belgian identity just as much as waffles, fries and beer. So I thought: what would happen if I combined the best of both worlds and created a light, gluten free, gingerbread crust and a luscious coconut-based pecan maple filling?
What happened was that these cute little tarts turned out to be I N C R E D I B L E.
Pecan Maple Tartlets
Makes 1 large 8 inch (20cm) tart or 3 small 4inch (10cm) tartlets
If you are making a larger 9 inch (24cm) tart like in the first picture, I've done the math for you.
- 2 + 1/4 oz (65g) brown rice flour
- 1 + 3/4 oz (45g) almond flour
- 2 Tbsp. potato flour or tapioca starch
- 1 Tbsp. unrefined coconut sugar
- 3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
- 3 Tbsp. ice-cold water
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 + 1/2 tsp. speculoos spice mixture (you can also use allspice, which isn't quite the same, but it comes close). If you'd like to make your own speculoos mixture you need: 2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp cloves + 1/2 tsp nutmeg + 1/2 tsp aniseed + 1/4 tsp cardamom + 1/4 tsp ginger + 1/4 tsp liquorice, mixed together in powdered form.
Maple Pecan Filling
- 1 + 1/3 cup (150g) pecans
- 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
- 5 Tbsp. high quality maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. unrefined coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp. arrowroot starch
- 2 Tbsp. water
- flaky, unrefined sea salt (fleur de sel)
1. To make the tart case, sift together the flours, starch, coconut sugar, spices and salt in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and ice-cold water and use your hands to work the dry ingredients towards the centre until a dough forms. It should be quite crumbly, but if it's too dry and doesn't come together in a ball, add a little more water. Gather it into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and grease your tart tins with coconut oil.
Lightly (!) roast your pecans in a pan for a few minutes, taking care never to burn them. Keep a couple halves aside for decorating your tart(s) and crush the rest into smaller pieces.
3. Use your hands to press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the tart tin. If you are making smaller tarts, divide the dough into equal pieces before pressing it into the tins. Trim the dough flush with the edge of the tin and prick the base with a fork to prevent the pastry from rising as it bakes. Bake the tarts for 15-25min or until slightly browned, depending on how large or small they are. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don't burn. When done, take the tart shells out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
4. Make your filling: combine the arrowroot starch and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.
In a saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and coconut sugar and bring to a heat until it starts to bubble. Gently fold in the crushed pecans. Add the arrowroot-mixture and stir for 10-30 seconds until your mixture gets a thick, custardy consistency. Take your pan off the heat.
5. Fill the tart shells with your pecan maple filling, smooth over the top and decorate with pecan halves. Let your tarts cool down for as long as you manage to restrain yourself - or ignore this whole cooling-down business altogether and have them warm, as I just did. I won't tell a soul. ;) But whatever you do, don't forget to sprinkle a little flaky sea salt on top (this gives it an ah-maaaaazing butterscotch twist!) and if you feel like going crazy, serve your tarts with a dollop of coconut whipped cream.
These tarts will keep in the fridge for several days and freeze extremely well too. I love to pop them in a low heat oven after they've defrosted just to give them back a little of that freshly baked-feel, and each time they come out tasting marvellously (again). :)
Lots of autumn love,