I’m going to wager an estimate that 9 out of 10 Americans don’t really know the origins of St. Patrick’s Day.
I included myself in this number until about five minutes ago, when after a near quarter century of eating corned beef and wearing green every year on March 17th, I finally decided to Google it.
Know what I learned? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even a legally recognized holiday in the United States. What’s more, there isn’t much of a story behind it beyond what one would assume from hearing the name. It is a day to honor Saint Patrick, who was the patron saint of Ireland over 1500 years ago. March 17th is his agreed upon death date. The only mildly interesting piece of information my two minutes of research yielded was that the Church’s Lenten restrictions on eating/drinking/behavior are lifted for this date.
And now we know.
I’m just going to carry on as I always have during this second week of March, looking forward to corned beef hash, wearing green clothing that compliments my red hair oh-so-nicely, pouring different alcohols into my baked goods, and beers into my stew. And belly. Because man do I love holidays.
These few days leading up to the 17th is also the only time of year aside from Christmas when I get cravings for all things chocolatey and minty. I still have a bottle of crème de menthe on my topmost shelf that I obtained when I was too young to buy alcohol, for the sole purpose of making a vegan grasshopper pie from this book. I remember my 20-year-old self asking my 22-year-old friend who bought me the cookbook as a gift to drive me to the liquor store after class:
“Sure, what do you need?”
“Crème de menthe.”
“What the f*ck?”
“I need to make a pie. And with that attitude you’re not getting a piece.”
That pie was so good. But yikes, how long does sugary liqueur last? It’s probably about time to toss that half-full bottle.
Don’t worry, I didn’t use any crème de menthe in this Chocolate Mint Cream Tart. In fact, it’s entirely vegan, gluten-free, and contains no refined sugars! And to be fully honest, this may be the very best chocolate cream tart/pie I’ve ever had.
Last St. Patty’s Day I made a pie with a chocolate stout cream filling, pretzel graham cracker crust, Bailey’s whipped cream topping, and whiskey caramel drizzle. It was totally indulgent and delicious. And just a small slice gave me a major stomachache for the rest of the day.
As I say in my “about me,” I believe good food is that which helps us to be healthy and happy. “Healthy” food that tastes bad does not make me happy, and not feeling well after eating something does not make me happy or healthy. Not only was I very happy after eating this Chocolate Mint Cream Tart, I felt accomplished. It is such an incredibly rich and decadent dessert; even being the one to make it I still had a hard time believing it only contains whole, plant-based ingredients!
It made me start daydreaming about opening my own restaurant, something I’ve never had any desire to do. I want everyone to eat a slice of Chocolate Mint Cream Tart. Vegans and celiacs and the Chris Traeger’s of the world will join together with carnivores and conservative middle aged men over one dessert. And I’ll charge them $12 a slice.
Seriously though. The crust is reminiscent of an Oreo cookie crust, but is made from brown rice flour, oat flour, cocoa, coconut palm sugar, and oil to hold it all together. The deep, chocolate filling is actually an adaptation of my Mexican chocolate ice cream recipe. Rich coconut milk, agave, coconut palm sugar, and dark chocolate, thickened by cornstarch and flavored with vanilla and peppermint extracts. The mint adds a festive touch that’s perfect for either St. Patty’s or Christmas, but you may certainly leave it out if you prefer a purely chocolate tart.
For such a memorable dessert, this actually comes together rather easily. It needs time to set in the refrigerator, making it great for preparing a day in advance. I think I have a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition. However you choose to celebrate the holiday, make this Chocolate Mint Cream Tart part of your plans!
Chocolate Mint Cream Tart
Yields one 8″ tart
Decadent vegan chocolate custard with a hint of mint inside a crisp gluten free chocolate tart crust.
Chocolate Tart Crust:
- 2/3 cup (80g) brown rice flour
- 2/3 cup (65g) oat flour
- 2/3 cup (57g) cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (100g) coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. (21g) honey or brown rice syrup
- 1/3 cup canola oil
Chocolate Mint Cream Filling:
- 1 (14oz) can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/3 cup (112g) agave nectar
- 1/3 cup (66g) coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 cup (32g) cornstarch
- 8 tsp. (14g) cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1.75 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped*
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 12 drops peppermint extract**
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350º F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa, coconut palm sugar, and salt until no lumps remain. Drizzle the honey over the top. Using a pastry cutter or fork to mix, slowly stream in the canola oil. Continue mixing until everything is thoroughly moistened and large crumbs have formed. (Clean hands are a helpful tool here, too!)
Transfer the crumbs into a 8″ tart pan pan. Use your fingers to press the dough along the bottom and sides, doing your best to create an even layer.
Use a fork to poke a couple holes in the bottom of each crust. Bake for 13-16 minutes, until slightly puffy and slightly darkened around the edges. Cool completely before filling or removing from the pan.
For the filling:
In a sauce pan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk, agave, and coconut sugar to just below a simmer.
Meanwhile, whisk together the corn starch, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in about half of the heated milk mixture, whisking constantly until no lumps remain.
Return the saucepan to the stove and add the cocoa mixture. Whisk constantly until it thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in the chopped chocolate until fully melted. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
Strain the custard through a fine meshed sieve into a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly at room temperature for about 15 minutes
Spoon the filling into the tart shell. Gently shake the pan or use an offset spatula to even it out. Gently press a sheet of plastic wrap directly to the surface, then refrigerate for at least four hours, and up to overnight, before serving. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve with a side of whipped cream, dairy or otherwise, if desired.
* I recommend using something at least 60% cacao.
**Peppermint extract is extremely potent, so be very careful not to overmeasure. Use less to taste, or omit entirely for a chocolate tart.