I’m pretty sure I need to bookmark this post as a reminder to the annoyed and freezing January version of myself. This post needs to be a reminder that no matter how hard it is cut an onion while you can’t feel your fingers, its even harder to bake in a 90 degree kitchen without passing out of heat exhaustion. It is one thing to use your oven as a heater in the winter but how do you cool the kitchen down in the summer? The secret is most certainly in avoiding turning that oven back on.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but our kitchen was a add-on from the original 1920′s ranch we live in so it’s a little bit of a awkward shack addition in the back of the home. All weird bugs and lack of natural light aside, the workspace wouldn’t be so bad if the builders had managed to hook it up to the central air system. Nope – they did not. This means that its absolutely frigid in the winter and beyond humid / muggy in the summer. Hell, the kitchen might as well be outside so I could at least get some nice natural light out of the thing.
This tart was a result of needing a dessert without turning the oven on. The only part that required any sort of heating energy at all was the melting of the dark chocolate at the very end of the recipe. The rest of the recipe is done with the magic of your wonderful food processor. With a little planning ahead (just to start soaking the dates the night before), you’ll have a delicious, sugar-free, somewhat nutritious (have you heard about all the health benefits of dates, cashews, and dark chocolate? But not so much butter – disappointing. I know) dessert.
I originally got a craving for a nut pie when I saw this recipe but wanted something a little less labor intensive and not drenched in sugar. Alas, the salted date caramel seemed to only make sense – its nutritious and easy and does a great job impersonating real caramel since it has a similar texture / color of its sugary friend.
Salted Date Caramel Cashew Tart With Mocha Graham Crust
Makes 2 mini tarts in 4 1/2″ tart pans
- 15 dates, pits removed
- 1 vanilla bean
- 8 graham crackers
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons strong coffee or espresso (substitute coffee extract for a more intense coffee flavor)
- 1/3 cup whole cashews
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- Coarse salt
Place the dates in enough water to completely cover them, stick in fridge, and let sit overnight (or at least 2 hours).
In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and butter until a coarse meal has formed. Slowly add in the coffee while the food processor is running until the dough comes together into one big ball.
Line the bottom of 2 mini tart pans with parchment paper (I went ahead and cut them into circular pieces that fit the bottom of the pans perfectly) and divide the dough between the two pans. Use your clean fingers or the back of a spoon to evenly press the dough across both pans. Transfer to the fridge until ready to use.
Next, drain the dates and transfer to the food processor. Add the beans from 1 vanilla pod and pulse a few times until a thick paste has formed. Slowly start adding in (1 tablespoon at a time) water while the food processor is running until your “caramel” has reached your desired consistency (I ended up using about 1/3 cup water but it will all depend on your preference).
Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips. Place the double boiler over a saucepan with 1 inch of water and let simmer over medium heat. Add your chocolate chips to the double boiler and stir frequently until completely melted.
Evenly place the cashews in one layer over the graham crust and pour the caramel over the cashews until the whole tart pan is filled. Drizzle the chocolate over the tarts and sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse salt.
Serve immediately or let set in the fridge for 1 hour for a firmer texture.