There is just something I love about the way a full berry tart looks. It’s so supple. In pastry school at the International Culinary Center, during our first section, we made tarts. We called them “rustic little tarts”. As time passed, our little class realized that we all really attached ourselves to one pastry. One lady loved the Dobos Torte, so we called her Dobos. I loved tarts, so I was called a Rustic Little Tart. I promise, it only referred to pastries.
Our chef for that first section was Chef Christopher. He was so graceful. I can’t remember exactly what his other passion was, but I believe it was choral or theatre-based. He was very tall and slender and spoke with an incredibly elegant tone. He taught us how to make tarts. The first we made was the apple tart, on our very first day of class. He told us to always expose the “supple” part of the cut fruit – I think he also called it the “sexy side”. That doesn’t really come naturally to me, – as in, I still look at cut fruit and have to focus on which side is the sexy side. Then that’s the side that is exposed. It makes such a huge difference! The cut side is just not nice, but showing a bit of it offers some nice variation sometimes.
This tart is practically overflowing with strawberries. And, damn, a lot of their sexy sides are showing. And I love it. It looks so inviting. Maybe I love pastries too much, I don’t know. If this tart had shown up at my front door, I think I would have found my nicest spoon, filled a flute with something sparkly, and just tucked into it. A friend ordered this. She and her housemate were having a tart party and they needed a vegan addition. This is filled with sweetened, whipped coconut cream, surrounded by a graham crust, topped with a ton of berries, toasted almonds, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Not joking.
Thank God I was able to make a tiny little serving of cream, berries, and almonds for myself. So. Good.
12 full graham crackers (regular, or gluten-free)
5 Tbsp vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp granulared sugar
1 tsp salt
Process all ingredients in a food processor until evenly incorporated. Press into a greased 8” tart pan. You can go as far up the side of the pan as you want – I usually go up about 1”. Cool in fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Whipped Coconut Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk (I always use Thai Kitchen brand)
1-2 tsp almond extract
¼ cup powdered sugar
Let the coconut milk sit in your fridge for at least 12 hours – I prefer 24 hours, just to be sure. Scoop out the top layer of fat (it will separate from the coconut water) and whip that in a bowl with the other ingredients until fluffy, about 2 minutes. This can sit in the fridge for up to two days before you use it. Just whip it up again a bit before putting it in the tart shell. I save leftover coconut water to throw in soup, smoothies, mixed veg in stirfry – really anything where you’d use water.
Pile in the whipped coconut cream and top with a TON of your favorite berries. I added toasted, slivered almonds to the top and a drizzle of maple syrup. I think the sheen the syrup adds is just awesome and beautiful – you could use honey (not vegan, duh) or agave, too. The tart can sit in your fridge for a day or so before serving, but definitely looks the best day-of.