Looking for a vegan-friendly dessert that will blow your mind?


Trying to find a gluten-free treat that actually tastes delicious?


Searching out something that doesn’t sacrifice taste just because it’s a little healthy?


AND you don’t feel like baking??

Oh, I GOT IT!!

How is it possible something so delicious could be so guilt-free on many levels? I had to combine a couple of recipes and search far and wide for some ingredients (if by traveling to two grocery stores with one being a teeny tiny Trader Joe’s means “far and wide” then I, of course, am not exaggerating in any way), but once I tried the final product, the effort was so worth it. If you’re not interested in meandering a healthier route, which I suspect you may not be if you’re often checking out this blog, you can easily make this dessert a one-stop-shop and a 15-minute project. Have no fear omnivores who love gluten, I’ll post the replacements below. Oh, and please read the tips below before starting on the recipe!

Strawberries & Cream Tart

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes one 9″ tart

For the Crust

  • 1 oz good-quality dark chocolate
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate or carob chips
  • 2 tsp safflower or canola oil
  • 1 package of vegan-friendly, gluten-free chocolate wafer cookies (I used Pamela’s Simplebites Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies) or about 3 cups worth
  • 9″ pie plate or serving plate

For the Filling

  • 6 oz non-dairy cream cheese, like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp dark agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch

For the Topping

  • 2 Tbsp all-natural strawberry preserves (no sugar added) or strawberry fruit spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered

How to Do It

  1. Using a food processor, finely ground the chocolate cookies. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and continue to heat until melted, stopping every 15-20 seconds to stir. Add the melted chocolate and safflower or canola oil to the cookie crumbs, and blend again. Remove the mixture from the food processor, and press into the bottom of a 9″ pie plate, until the plate is entirely covered. Put the crust into the freezer for 15-20 minutes while you work on the filling.
  2. Make the coconut whipped cream by scooping out the heavy part of the coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can. Whip the cream on high speed until the beater begins to leave marks through it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, and add the agave nectar, corn starch, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whip again at high speed until blended and slightly thick. Place the bowl in the freezer for approximately 15 minutes to firm.
  3. Combine the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, and almond extract in a large bowl, and whip on low speed until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Heat the strawberry preserves or fruit spread in a microwave-safe bowl for 10 seconds, or until soft and almost liquid. Stir with a fork, and mix in 1 tsp vanilla extract and lemon juice. Pour the juice over the prepared strawberries, and use a large wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together and coat the strawberries. Set aside.
  5. Remove the chocolate crust and the coconut whipped cream from the freezer. Gently fold the frozen whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, and spread the mixture on top of the chocolate cookie crust. Top with strawberry topping, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Meets Girl and The Chemist’s Daughter.

Tips & Treats

  • To make a successful whipped coconut cream, refrigerate the can of coconut milk before opening. Most sites suggest at least 4 hours, and I refrigerated mine overnight. It’s also best to chill everything you’re using to make the whipped cream-the beaters, the bowl, and maybe even in the spatula. Depending on what brand of cream you use (I used Goya), it may not separate as the original recipe describes, but it may be creamy throughout. It’s okay to use the whole can if this is the case, but be aware that it will be different from what you’re used to if you’re transitioning from Cool Whip or real whipped cream. The texture is slightly softer, but the taste is dramatically better (assuming you like coconut).
  • Just a quick note on sugar: if you’re entirely vegan, and you choose not to consume sugar that you’re unsure of the refining process for, check out this website for vegan-friendly sugars. Oh, and avoid Domino.

Omnivores Rejoice

  • If you’re not interested in making the Earth- and health-friendly replacements, you can substitute the gluten-free chocolate cookies for 25 chocolate wafer cookies, the Tofutti cream cheese for real cream cheese, and the coconut whipped cream for frozen Cool Whip. However, I encourage you to try something new and be open-minded, as this is one heck of a dessert that will blow any misconceptions of a healthy diet to smithereens.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Chocolate Tart

I came across this recipe during the height of New England
strawberry season on another beautiful food blog. I was looking for something
simple and beautiful to make for my friend Lauren’s weekend visit (a
Winesweekend visit!) and something for my boyfriend’s family party the same
weekend. I had a small tart obsession during the early part of summer (it is,
after all, the most fabulously versatile summer dessert), and I fell in love
with this flavor combination. The blog author (see below) intended for the tart
to be served in a rich pastry crust, but I altered the recipe to include a
graham cracker crust instead. I think pastry and pie crusts are delicious, but
I almost always prefer a graham cracker crust with anything that includes
chocolate because of the comforting feeling that combination induces.

The development of convenience products like the off-the-shelf
graham cracker crust has made baking much easier and quicker. You can always
take the easy route and begin with one of those; however, if you want to wow
your friends, make one yourself! It’s extremely simple, but people are
impressed by the “from scratch” approach when they’re used to seeing things
conveniently packaged on grocery store shelves.

Graham Cracker Crust

Makes one 9” pie or one 10” tart.

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp (1/2 stick plus 1 Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 9” pie plate or 10” tart pan

How to Do It

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend all ingredients together with your hands in a large mixing bowl until the mixture feels similar to wet sand.
  2. Press the mixture firmly into the pie plate or tart pan, and smooth with your fingertips along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  3. Bake 8-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Now comes the fun part. The I-can’t-stop-snacking-on-this-before-I-put-it-together part: the chocolate and the cream cheese filling. The original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, but I prefer to use semisweet chocolate in my ganache (sorry, I really like things rich!).

Chocolate Ganache

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 2 oz semisweet baking chocolate
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • A small sauce pan, stainless steel mixing bowl, or double boiler

How to Do It

  1. Set up a double boiler using a small sauce pan ¼ to ½ full of water and a heat safe stainless steel mixing bowl. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and place the mixing bowl on top of the pan. Be sure to use a bowl large enough to just sit on top of the pan. Place the chocolate in the bowl, and stir gently as the
    water begins to boil and the chocolate begins to melt. Remove from heat once the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  2. Put heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and let it come to a boil. Remove from heat.
  3. Gently pour the cream into the melted chocolate, add the butter, and whip by hand until blended. Let the ganache cool slightly.
  4. Pour evenly into the cooled graham cracker crust, and allow the ganache to set before adding the filling.

Tip: Want to cheat and make the ganache the easy way? Use semisweet chocolate chips instead of baking squares, and microwave your butter and heavy cream until it’s very hot (usually about 90-120 seconds for this amount). Pour the hot cream over the chips, and let them stand for two minutes. Use a sturdy whisk to whip them together, and voila! Chocolate ganahce-the easy way. I don’t recommend it as highly as the traditional methods, but it works if you’re in a rush!

Extra Tip: The ganache will set faster if it’s cold. If you have the time, put the tart in the fridge for a couple of hours, and if you don’t, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. If the ganache is solid, it won’t blend into your filling, but it will soften enough to cut through if you leave the completed tart at room temperature before serving.

Cream Cheese Filling

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream

How to Do It

  1. Beat together the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar in a stand mixer using a whip attachment or by hand with an electric mixer at medium-high speed.
  2. Add the vanilla and cream, and mix until they’re fully incorporated.
  3. Spread the filling evenly over the solid ganache.

Onto the decoration of your tart! I know it’s difficult not to dig into now, but…make an effort!

Strawberry Topping

Stuff You’ll Need

  • Approximately 1lb fresh strawberries
  • 2oz semi sweet chocolate, melted
  • Plastic sandwich bag that seals
  • Scissors

How to Do It

This is so simple, but it makes the dessert (almost) too pretty to eat. Fruit tarts can be very versatile. You can use the same crust, the same pastry cream or filling, and a large variety of fruits and garnishes that can change the tart entirely. It’s the presentation that really makes a tart appetizing.

For this tart, use the same technique to slice strawberries that I mentioned in Strawberry Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes. Beginning in the center of the tart, place the strawberry slices in overlapping circles. Be sure that the
slices are facing the same way; it’s usually easiest to put the broad end of the slice into the filling and leave the narrow end facing upwards. Also, be sure that as much space as possible is covered with strawberries. You don’t
need to see the filling on a tart, and it’s usually better if you don’t. The fruit should be the focal point.

Next, pour the melted chocolate into a plastic sandwich bag that seals. Use your scissors to make a (very) tiny cut in the corner of the plastic bag. Gently squeeze the chocolate to drizzle it in concentric circles over the
strawberries. See below!

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats

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