Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Tart with Pecan Crust

Maple syrup gets used in three different ways in this delightful tart - in the crust, in the filling, and for a glaze drizzled on top.  Definitely take the time to cook and mash fresh sweet potatoes, instead of buying the canned version.  Peel and cube the sweet potato, and cook in boiling water for about 15 to 20 minutes until very tender, before mashing with a potato masher until smooth.  Make sure to start with enough raw sweet potato - roughly 2 and 1/2 cups to yield the amount needed for this recipe.

For the crust:
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Cooking spray
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mashed and cooked sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup soft silken tofu
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped and peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the syrup:
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
1. To make the crust, lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in the bowl of a food processor with the pecans and salt; process until the pecans are finely ground.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the food processor; pulse about 4 to 8 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

2. Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup while the food processor is on, and process until combined (you do not want the dough to form into a ball; it will look more like soft cookie dough at this point).  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 4 to 5 times.

3. Place the dough in a 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray.  Place plastic wrap over the dough, and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Discard the plastic wrap.

Note: I've never used this method for a crust before, and found it quite fun.  The plastic wrap keeps the dough from sticking to your hands, making for an easy time of evenly dispersing the dough all the way up the sides of the pan.  My husband was so amused he actually filmed the process.

4. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; cool completely on a wire rack.

5. To prepare the filling, whisk together 1/2 cup maple syrup with the cornstarch.  Combine the maple syrup mixture in a food processor with the mashed sweet potato, tofu, ginger, orange rind, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg; process until smooth.  Spoon the mixture into the cooled crust, spreading evenly to the edges.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes - the filling should be set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

6. To prepare the syrup, place 1/2 cup maple syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 5 to 6 minutes, during which time it will bubble quite wildly).  Remove from heat and cool completely.  Drizzle over the tart just before serving.

Note: the tart will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days if you make it in advance, and will be best served chilled.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1 wedge, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup), Calories 264

Tasting Notes:
One of the best crusts I've ever had - almost like a soft, maple-flavored graham cracker cookie.  The filling was also quite yummy, but surprisingly a touch bland - I would increase the spices next time, although I enjoyed the subtle sweetness of maple syrup as opposed to sugar.  I also wouldn't bother reducing the maple syrup in a saucepan if I made this again, but simply drizzle a teaspoon or so right from the bottle over each wedge just before serving; the reduced maple syrup became stiff once cooled and didn't drizzle well.  To fix the problem rewarm it briefly in the microwave for about 15 seconds.


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