Strawberry and hibiscus go together as swimmingly as strawberry and rhubarb. The same marriage of sweetness and tartness is what makes it so perfect. A vegan strawberry hibiscus curd is tucked into a melt-in-your-mouth pistachio shortbread crust and is finished with fresh strawberries. No pastry rolling or complex steps involved!
We have a big bag of dried hibiscus blossoms in our pantry and I have been trying to get use out of it besides tea which I find a bit astringent when it’s hot. Perhaps there’s a trick to making it you can share with me? I do enjoy it iced, with lemonade as one popular coffee chain makes it. Anyway, I was inspired to make a tart with it after I saw a non-vegan one made by @snixykitchen with strawberries and hibiscus. The combination sounded perfect. Hibiscus is not unlike rhubarb in tartness and flavor, hibiscus being more floral.
I was so pleased when this tart worked out. It’s easy to make, no daunting pastry skills are required, no straining out stray bits of cooked egg from the curd and, for a dessert, it’s not too high in sugar or added fat. Apparently hibiscus has even more antioxidant power than green tea, so that’s nice to keep in mind while you’re indulging in this dessert. And no, I’m not promoting this as a health food but it’s nice to know that it’s a dessert that’s a bit more forgiving than, say, a triple layer fatty fat cake. The color is one of my all time favorites, a not too vibrant purplish-pink. The crust isn’t overly green from the pistachios, but definitely provides a nice contrast to the filling.
When making the crust, take note if the pistachios are salted. If they are, I suggest leaving out any additional salt or it may be a bit overpowering.
Although fresh strawberries are in season right now, I prefer to use frozen ones when cooking them first. With frozen berries, there’s no additional water needed, and there’s less risk of burning. You could likely use fresh strawberries in the curd, but you’d have to make sure that any water you’ve added to prevent sticking and burning is cooked off so that the curd doesn’t end up runny. I have only tested this recipe with frozen berries. If you try it with fresh ones, I’d love to hear how it turns out!
Vegan Strawberry Hibiscus Tart in a Pistachio Shortbread Crust
For the Crust:
- 2/3 cup pistachios
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup refined coconut oil (or vegan butter, stick style, not from a tub)
- 4 tbsp confectioner's sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt (omit if pistachios are salted)
For the Strawberry Hibiscus Filling:
- 1 tbsp dried hibiscus flowers (3 g or about 2 tea bags)
- 1/2 cup scalding water
- 1 lb fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
For the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°F/gas mark 4.
- In a food processor, blend the pistachios until a coarse meal forms, scraping down the sides and bottom. Don't over process or it'll become greasy and then into nut butter. Add the flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to blend. Add in the refined coconut oil and process on low for about 30 seconds until a loose dough forms. Press into a 9-inch (23 cm) (or a 10 x 4 1/2 inch [25.4 x 11.5 cm]) tart tin with removable bottom. Start with the sides and work your way down ensuring that the crust is even. Press and smooth out the surface. Gently pierce the sides and bottom every inch or so with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes or until fragrant and starting to lightly brown. Let the crust cool completely on a cooling rack.
For the Filling:
- In a small bowl, pour the scalding water over the hibiscus flowers. Let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the flowers from the hibiscus tea and let the tea cool completely (speed it up by placing it in the fridge.)
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, cook the strawberries until they are simmering. Remove from heat. Add to a high-powered blender with the coconut cream and sugar, blending on high until completely smooth. Pour back into the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Add the cornstarch to the cooled tea, and whisk until blended. Add the cornstarch slurry to the hot strawberries, whisking constantly to avoid lumps forming. Heat and whisk gently for a minute or 2 or until the pudding has thickened. Remove from heat, and pour into the cooled tart. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover once chilled. Decorate with fresh strawberries, or as desired.