Cranberry and Toasted Almond Tartlets (Gluten-Free and Vegan!)
If you’re cooking for vegan and gluten-free friends or family this Thanksgiving, these tartlets are the perfect way to please everyone at the table. Unlike most desserts served on this holiday, this one is made without butter, sugar, cream and eggs. Instead the recipe calls for toasted nuts, whole grains, coconut oil, maple syrup and agar. Agar is a neutral-flavored seaweed that is used as a vegetarian gelatin; here, along with arrowroot, it gives great texture to the toasted almond filling.
As with most vegan and gluten-free tarts, these are best served the day they’re made. You can press the crusts and freeze them ahead of time to give yourself a head start. The toasted almond milk for the filling and the cranberry topping can also be made up to three days in advance; just bake the tart shells and cook the filling the day you’re serving them.
Although rolled oats do not contain gluten, they are rolled in facilities that also process grains with gluten. So if you’re making these for someone with a severe gluten allergy, be sure to use certified gluten-free oats and oat flour. If you have a nut milk bag, you can use it to strain the toasted almond milk for the filling. When removing tart shells from pans, it helps to gently squeeze the sides of the pans to help release them. Using tartlet pans with removable bottoms is a safe way to avoid breakages.
Cranberry and Toasted Almond Tartlets
Yield: 10 3-inch tartlets
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup whole toasted almonds, see note
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oat flour
6 tablespoons brown rice flour
1/4 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for tartlet pans
6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
3/4 cup whole toasted almonds, see note
1 tablespoon agar flakes
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon arrowroot
2 teaspoons water
Make the Crust: Add oats, toasted almonds and sea salt to a food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in oat flour and brown rice flour. Drizzle in coconut oil and mix well. Add maple syrup and vanilla, then stir to combine. Dough will be quite wet. Cover bowl and set aside for 30 to 60 minutes, or until dough is moist but no longer sticky.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly oil tartlet pans and press dough evenly into each pan, trimming excess dough from the edges. Prick bottom with a fork several times, place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Make the Filling: Line a medium strainer with a thin kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth, place it over a medium pot and set aside.
Combine 2 1/2 cups water and toasted almonds in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Pour almond milk through the lined strainer into pot. Gather edges of cloth and gently squeeze out milk, discard the dry pulp that remains.
Add agar flakes, maple syrup and salt to almond milk, and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking every minute or so. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the agar is dissolved.
Combine arrowroot with remaining tablespoon of water and slowly drizzle into simmering liquid. Once mixture returns to a simmer, remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
Carefully remove crusts from tartlet pans. Pour 1/4 cup of the warm filling into each tart shell. Place on a flat tray and set aside; once the filling has stopped steaming, place the tartlets in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
Make the Topping: Add cranberries, orange juice, cinnamon and maple syrup to small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until cranberries are soft.
Dissolve arrowroot in water and slowly drizzle into cranberries, remove from heat once mixture has returned to a simmer. Set aside to cool. Top each tartlet with a spoon of cranberry mixture and serve.
Note: Using freshly toasted almonds in these tartlets gives the best flavor. It’s also easy to do: Spread whole, raw almonds over a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Place in a 300 degree oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the inside is a shade darker. Set aside to cool.
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Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. She blogs at amychaplin.com.