Recently I received a copy of Philip Khoury’s wonderful new book, A New Way to Bake (Hardie Grant, 2023), which features a collection of recipes for vegan baked goods and desserts. Philip is the Head Pastry Chef at Harrods, and he’s making his mark by showing visitors of the Food Hall – and now readers of his book – that vegan desserts can be as good, and sometimes better than, traditional ones made with dairy products. Philip’s goal, as he writes in his introduction, is to “try and look at things in a different way, asking a simple question: if I was trying to create some of the classic treats and some new ones from a new perspective, how would that look, and can they be naturally plant-based?” I love this fresh approach, and I can’t wait to make all the recipes in this book in an attempt to become a better vegan baker. My first choice is this deep, dark chocolate ganache tart made with plant-based milk and a touch of cornstarch. Instead of butter, the crust is made with a fruity extra-virgin olive oil. It’s a little harder to work with than classic tart dough, but Philip’s trick of rolling it out between sheets of parchment makes easy work of the task.
Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8
- 50 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) soy milk
- 60 grams (5 tablespoons) superfine granulated sugar
- 50 grams (3 ¾ tablespoons) muscovado or light brown sugar
- 100 grams (1 cup minus ½ tablespoon) extra-virgin olive oil (I used a fruity Arbequina)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla paste (or the seeds from ½ vanilla bean)
- 255 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 28 grams (4 ½ tablespoons) cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) salt
- 450 grams (1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons) plant-based milk, divided
- 20 grams (2 ½ tablespoons) cornstarch
- 40 grams (3 tablespoons) muscovado or light brown sugar
- 350 grams (12.3 ounces) dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, coarsely chopped
- Pinch of flaky sea salt (I like Maldon)
Make the Cocoa Pastry
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F with the convection fan, or 375°F without the fan. In a pitcher or a glass measure, whisk together the soy milk, sugars, olive oil and vanilla until glossy and uniform in color.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add the syrup and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to combine the mixture until an even dough forms. Turn it onto a work surface and press it into a ¾-inch thick (2 cm) disc. Lightly sprinkle some flour over the dough, then place it between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to a 12-inch round. Remove the top sheet and use the bottom sheet to help flip it over into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently ease the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, then run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove the excess dough. Place the tart shell in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart so that it bakes evenly. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake the tart shell for 15 to 18 minutes, or until it is baked through. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the Chocolate Filling
4. Pour a splash (about 50 grams) of the milk into a small bowl with the cornstarch mix until all the cornstarch has dissolved and no lumps remain.
5. Heat the remaining milk with the muscovado sugar and bring to a simmer. Add a splash of the hot milk to the cornstarch mixture, then return everything to a low heat and stir with a silicone spatula constantly, cooking until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
6. Add the chocolate and use a hand blender (a.k.a. an immersion or stick blender) to blend everything really well. Everything needs to be glossy and smooth. Make sure to scrape the saucepan in between.
7. Pour into the middle of the pre-baked tart case and smooth until leveled, using minimal movements. Leave to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, until set. Remove from the refrigerator and serve at room temperature. Use a knife dipped in a tall pitcher of hot water to cut clean slices of the tart once it is set. The tart keeps well in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Sprinkle it with sea salt just before serving.