During a recent eating (well) and wellbeing retreat I organised for some American friends, I met and worked with Chef Didier Benoit. He made us this recipe one evening and from the first bite it became our favorite dessert recipe. It is gluten free and has no added sugar! The sweetness comes from the dates used in the crust and the natural goodness of the strawberries – the seasonality and quality of these being key to this recipe.
100g of dates
40g of pecan nuts
40g of pistachios
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 small container of fresh seasonal and organic strawberries, as ripe and sweet as possible!
1 teaspoon of agar-agar
125g of mascarpone cheese
25g of pistachio paste (or butter) – this must be made only with pistachios and not have any added oils or sugars. You can find this sold with other nut butters. I found some really good one from Italy in Spar!
4 standard round individual tart tins
A dosing cup
(Note that you can use any other nuts other than pecan (such as cashew) and you may also substitute the dates with other dried fruit such as figs if desired)
- Chop up the dates in a blender until they become a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Chop up the nuts roughly, setting aside a small cupful of pistachios for the garnish. These should preferably be chopped by hand or if with a blender you must ensure they stay roughly chopped and not become a powder since you want to maintain their crunchy nature.
- Mix the date paste, the chopped nuts and the coconut oil into a homogenous thick paste.
- Cut 4 round pieces of parchment paper to the size of the inside of each of the 4 tart tins and push the paper down tot he bottom. Make an even tart bottom with the paste in each of the 4 tart tins, about 1/2 cm thick. Refrigerate them for at least 1 hour.
- In the meantime make the strawberry puree and pistachio cream.
- For the strawberry purée, set 4 nice strawberries aside for the decoration. With the rest, if they are very ripe, smash them until they are smooth with a fork. If less soft, you can use a blender but again ensure you don’t overland them. Pour the purée into a dosing cup so that you can estimate the quantity of agar-agar needed. You will generally need about 1 level teaspoon of agar-agar for 50cl of puréed strawberries (maximum about 1g of agar-agar for this recipe).
- Dilute the agar-agar in the purée, pour the purée into a pan and bring it to a boil for about 10 seconds. Allow it to cool slightly. Add a thin layer of purée to the tart bottoms and refrigerate them once more.
- Now make the pistachio cream. Mix the mascarpone cheese with the pistachio cream until you get a smooth homogenous cream. Add more pistachio cream according to taste.
- To dress the tarts, take them gently out of the tart tins (you can keep them on the paper to make it easier for serving) and unto an individual serving dish. Cut the 4 reserved strawberries into thin slices that you will fan out on one side of each of the tart bases. In the middle, garish with the pistachio cream, using a piping bag for ease and decor. On the remaining side, garnish with a few pieces of lightly toasted and roughly chopped pistachios.
Enjoy (I know you will love this one)!