Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blackberry Tart with Coconut Custard

Here in the great Pacific Northwest we have stunning scenery that grabs hold of your soul, directs your eyes, and fills your every breath with beauty.  Gorgeous landscapes of mountains layered with forest, rivers, lakes, sky, offer a veritable treasure chest of inspiration, gratitude and grandeur.  When I first arrived in Washington, I stood in awe at the sheer beauty of this place and its heart stopping, breath stealing landscapes.  As any PNW newbie always does, I took endless photos of sky, water and lush little sprigs of moss covering the tress.  Gazing at the abundance of trees and ferns it felt like entering an enchanted land of magical forests, dew drops and the purest air I had ever tasted.
Gorgeous Lake Cushman where water blends to trees, mountain then sky. Classic PNW.
Classic mossy tree shot.

Breathtaking water views are everywhere!
You can imagine my childlike delight when summer came along and all of the "sticker bushes" that everyone complained of turned out to be wild blackberry bushes!  Fields and fields of blackberries in all directions just saturated in little black dots and dripping in the sweet nectar.  Although these pesky plants are covered in brutal thorns, just like a rose bush, they usually offer enough heavy bundles of berries that the branches will bow and practically beg to be picked!

This season we hung bird feeders in the trees and it seems to have kept the local wildlife well fed enough to leave our harvest of blackberries intact.  So much so that we have a bit of an overload of berries at the moment. 
Succulent blackberries pictured with some of our other local treasures, wild pea flowers and lavender.

They are so sweet and juicy in their raw state that I could never dream of cooking them and robbing these little black gems of the flavor the sun had infused within them.  Therefore, I decided to keep it light, keep it fresh and keep it raw.  My mini tart pans were in need of use as was a coconut I had on hand.  These little Blackberry Tarts with Coconut Custard are arguably one of the best dishes I have ever made!

The coconut custard is golden, sweet, thick and tastes just like crème brulee! Very exciting stuff for anyone who has wanted to indulge without taxing their body with unwanted toxins and processed sugars.  I hope you guys love this recipe as much as I did! Let's get started!

Coconut Custard Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups coconut meat from 2-3 young Thai coconuts
1/3 cup coconut nectar, raw honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup water or coconut water
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped OR 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
pinch of salt
pinch of turmeric
Coconut Custard Method:
Open your coconuts and remove the meat.  Reserve the water for smoothies, drinking and even a little for the custard.  If you don't know how to open a coconut, my tutorial is here.
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add all ingredients except the coconut oil.  Process until creamy, scraping down the side occasionally.  To melt coconut oil, bring a shallow pot of water to boil then turn of the heat and set your jar of coconut oil in the water.  Once melted it is easily measured and poured.  With the processor running, add the melted coconut oil.  Scrape down the sides and process again until all ingredients are well incorporated and the cream is smooth and custard like.  Place custard in a bowl and refrigerate overnight to allow it to set. 
Crust Ingredients:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked 4-6 hours, drained, rinsed
1 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted  (if your dates are dry, soak in water for 30 minutes to an hour)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Crust Method:
To a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the cashews, salt, shredded coconut and vanilla.  Process into a powder.  Roughly chop the dates and add them to the food processor slowly while it is running.  When the mixture forms a dough that sticks together (test by pinching a piece between two fingers and see if it holds together) then it is ready.  If the dough is not sticking, add another date and process again.
Take 4 small tart pans (or one 9" tart pan and line with plastic wrap if the bottom is not removable).  Press dough into the pan to form a pie crust. 
Cover and refrigerate overnight to set.  If you are pressed for time, stick the crusts in the freezer for 1-3 hours to make for a quicker setting time.  When the crust is set.  Remove from the pans and they are ready to fill.
To serve:  Spoon the coconut custard into each tart crust and smooth with a butter knife or spatula.  Then top with berries and orange zest (optional) and serve!  To store, just cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Thank you for stopping by the Venturing Vegan blog! I hope you are able to try this recipe and fall in love with it just as I did! I'd like to give thanks to my little black kitty, Little, as she was a great help in the kitchen and in the garden gathering berries! Happy Summer!!

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