A silky smooth chocolate orange truffle-like filling nestled inside a chocolate shortbread crust, all covered with a lush chocolate ganache. Garnish with candied kumquats for an easy to make, showstopper vegan dessert!
One of the nicest things that brighten up the dark days of winter in the Pacific North West is the abundance of gorgeous fresh citrus fruits hitting the grocery store shelves. Recently, my husband came home with a basket of kumquats, and I was so excited to try them! They are the most adorable of citrus fruits, so tiny and almost egg shaped. I’ve read how the rind is edible and I *imagined* they would be juicy and tender. They….were not. While their flavor was fresh and citrusy, and the rind was most certainly edible, they weren’t juicy so I decided that they would be excellent candidates for being candied. They turned out amazing prepared this way! Maybe not the way nature intended, but amazing all the same.
Which leads me to full disclosure: This chocolate orange tart came about as a need for displaying and consuming said candied kumquats. A vehicle, if you will, for what turned out to be such a pretty garnish.
If you’re familiar with Terry’s chocolate orange, that’s essentially what this tart tastes like. When I was a kid (pre-vegan days), I used to love getting one during the holidays. If you haven’t heard of Terry’s chocolate orange, it is a chocolate treat the size of a real orange. You smash it on the table so it separates into “orange wedges”, or pieces of chocolate with a perfect amount of orange flavor. I’m not sure if they ever came out with a dairy-free version, but we can happily enjoy something very much like it now but in vegan tart form!
The making of this tart: bake the no-roll chocolate shortbread crust, fill it with the no-cook chocolate orange mousse (made in the blender!), slather an easy ganache over the top, and then decorate with the candied kumquats. It’s a very easy dessert to prepare as there’s no pastry rolling, nothing finicky with the mousse and the ganache is just thinning some melted chocolate with coconut cream. And for anyone worrying about coconut flavor, it isn’t detectable in the ganache as such a small amount is used.
Tips for a Perfect Vegan Chocolate Orange Tart:
- use confectioner’s sugar in the crust. The crust will be smoother in texture than if made with granulated sugar. Also, if you use granulated sugar, it will be too sweet as 3/4 of a cup of confectioner’s sugar is not nearly as sweet than 3/4 cup of granulated sugar.
- use refined coconut oil in the crust. If you use regular (i.e. virgin or unrefined) coconut oil, the crust will taste a bit like…you guessed it, coconut. This might not bother you, but I was looking for no competition with the chocolate and orange flavors. If you prefer, you could try using vegan margarine (stick type only, the tub variety has too much water in it) and use the plant-based milk only as necessary. I haven’t tested this, but I don’t suspect any trouble.
- don’t skip freezing the crust before baking. This is especially important if you are using coconut oil. Without freezing we risk two possible pastry horrors: 1) the coconut oil melts completely as soon as it’s heated and the crust slumps to the bottom of the tart pan; or 2) the tart shell shrinks and becomes a distorted shape. Freezing makes sure the pastry keeps its shape and has minimal shrinkage.
- for the mousse, use silken tofu. Silken tofu is most often found in tetra-paks which are shelf-stable (i.e. don’t need refrigeration or cooking). Occasionally, I’ve seen “dessert” tofu sold in the cooler section – I’ve used these in other recipes but I haven’t tested this type in this recipe. I’ll test this at some point, and report back! In the meantime, silken tofu is the way to go!
- use good vegan chocolate. It doesn’t need to be fancy or pricey, but use what you’d eat and enjoy on its own. After all, the chocolate is a key player in this recipe so it shouldn’t taste like wax like some chocolate out there.
- take care when melting your chocolate, especially if you’re using a microwave. Few things are more disappointing during baking than chocolate that has been overheated and seizes. Seizing is a point of no return – there’s no fixing this. Rather than the sacrilege of tossing chocolate in the compost bin (or eating it as it and pretending it’s enjoyable), it’s best to baby the chocolate as it melts. Check on it every 30 seconds, stirring it each time.
- this recipe calls for orange extract, not oil. It’s found in most grocery stores along side other baking extracts,
- let the assembled tart cool completely so it sets up to be sliced.
- to slice the tart, dip a sharp knife in hot water, wipe it and then slice. Reheat and wipe the knife for each slice.
- this tart keeps very well for a few days covered in the fridge. It can be brought to room temperature before serving once set up so the crust can relax a bit. Because it has (refined) coconut oil it in, the shortbread will be quite firm when chilled, but will soften a bit when brought to room temperature. Keep leftovers in the fridge as there’s tofu in it which needs to be kept refrigerated.
Vegan Chocolate Orange Tart with Candied Kumquats
For the Chocolate Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup refined coconut oil
- 1 tbsp unsweetened plant-based milk
For the Chocolate Orange Filling:
- 349 gram pkg extra-firm silken tofu, drained (the shelf-stable, tetra-pak type)
- 2 cups semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips (or chopped vegan chocolate)
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- 1 tsp orange extract (not orange oil)
For the Chocolate Ganache:
- 6 tbsp full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ cup vegan chocolate chips (or chopped vegan chocolate)
For the Candied Kumquats:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 pint fresh kumquats, washed (approximately 20 kumquats)
For the Candied Kumquats:
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the kumquats in 1/8″ slices cross-wise. The slices will look like little wheels. Remove the seeds as you go.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the kumquat slices, and stir to coat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- The kumquats can be stored in the syrup – place them in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. Before using them to garnish the tart, drain the slices in a fine mesh sieve, reserving the syrup for another use. Kumquats must be cooled completely before being placed on the tart.
For the Chocolate Pastry:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine all the ingredients for the pastry (except the plant-based milk) in the food processor. Pulse until well blended, then drizzle in the plant-based milk. Keep pulsing until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides as necessary. Press the dough evenly into the tart pan, starting with the sides. Press the bottom and sides smooth and flat with a dry measuring cup. Pierce the crust with a fork all over to help prevent puffing during baking. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and bake for 25-30 minutes, or the pastry appears dry, rotating once during baking
For the Chocolate Orange Filling:
- In the meantime, make the filling. First, melt the chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, or in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well each time you check it. Do not overheat or it will seize and become unusable.
- Combine the drained tofu, orange juice, and orange extract in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and silky. Add the melted chocolate and blend again until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
For the Ganache:
- Heat the coconut milk in a small pot over low heat until steaming but not boiling. Stir in the chocolate, and whisk constantly until smooth and shiny. Remove from heat and set aside to come down to room temperature.
- Spread the chocolate filling evenly over the tart crust. Chill the tart in the fridge until the filling has set, about 2 hours.
- Spread the ganache over the chocolate orange filling. Garnish with the candied kumquats. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.