vegan black bottom chocolate chestnut tart

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it’s a new year and i’ve resolved to practice healthier habits. i cashed in a gift certificate i received from my father-in-law for a class at the institute of culinary education and took a course on vegan chocolate desserts taught by fran costigan. i was quite pleased by the results and thought very little was sacrificed in terms of taste by using exclusively nondairy items.

pictured above is the recreation of the dessert my group created in class, the black bottom chocolate chestnut tart (made for my dad’s birthday). it was composed of an organic chocolate cookie crust, a layer of ganache, chocolate chestnut filling, and chestnut cream. alas, i have no photo of a slice or cross-section of the tart, but the light chestnut cream created a nice color contrast against the chocolate filling and dark cookie crust. whole chestnuts or marrons glaces would have been an ideal topper for the tart, but since i ran of chestnuts, but did have some ganache to spare, i made truffles with the latter, rolled them in cocoa powder or chopped nuts, and used that for decoration.

fran was a lively teacher and created her recipes after years of experimentation and tweaking. it was really interesting to learn how various ingredients could be substituted, i.e. agave for sugar, canola oil for butter, soy creamer for milk, etc. (of course, it’s not a matter of simply substituting canola oil whenever butter is called for, often other ingredients are also incorporated to create the right chemistry).

my health-conscious parents were quite pleased with this no cholesterol dessert. i was happy with the clean taste and happy to serve them a less guilt-ridden dessert. i’m looking forward to trying some other vegan recipes from fran’s class – “gianduja” cheezecakes in a chocolate hazelnut crust (using tofu), and triple chocolate black forest cake. yum…

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