Project Food Blog Challenge #2: Tarte Aux Fraises

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My travels recently brought me to one of the most beautiful and delicious places on earth.

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Paris, France.

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Stuffing my suitcase with stilettos and wheatgrass powder, I was eager to experience this historic city with my mom and my sister.

My only dilemma?

My Vegan diet was the antithesis of the French cuisine.

Still, I forged ahead all smiles and confidence; I was tackling a challenge that would make some vegans cringe at the mere thought.

My only goal in Paris was to have no regrets.

Of course, my lack of desire to eat meat or dairy led to some interesting discussions with the chef and serving staff…In one restaurant, I heard screams bellowing from the kitchen. That was a hot-tempered chef!

The servers cursed my very being.

However, many of my meals were downright easy to order and delicious, albeit coated in butter because even the most accommodating French chef believes that a meal is not complete without du beurre.

I made a list of foods- vegan or not- that I deemed were a once in a lifetime (but hopefully twice) opportunity to try.

For example, the croissant that melted on my tongue, the café that made 3 hours of sleep and jet lag almost bearable…

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and the Tarte aux Fraises that left me longing to bake a Végétalienne (vegan) version in my own kitchen.

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I decided to combine the traditional French methods of the Tarte aux Fraises recipe, but to also add a non-traditional Vegan flare.

And like a good little student, I did my research.

I went straight to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume I) Cookbook for inspiration.

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[source]

With my suitcase overflowing with postcards, dirty clothes, Michel Cluizel 85% dark chocolate, and barely worn stilettos (have you seen that cobblestone?!), I set off to my kitchen to create.

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I have always been a girl with her priorities straight.

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Tarte Aux Fraises Végétalienne

Objective: Traditional French Cuisine with a vegan twist.

 

Pâte sablée (Sugar Crust):

  • 1 cup white Kamut flour
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance butter sticks
  • 2 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean, finely grated
  • 1/8th tsp Himalayan sea salt

 

Vegan Custard:

  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp raw agave nectar
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast (for yellow colour- optional)

 

Fruit Topping:

  • 1.25 cup strawberries, sliced w/ stems removed
  • 1/4 cup raw agave nectar OR sugar + water glaze
  • 1 Kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 large Peach, sliced

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Gather 4 tart pans approx. 4 inches in diameter. In a stand mixer using the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, vanilla bean, and salt. Add the Earth Balance and milk and mix until a ball forms. Wrap and chill dough in fridge while you prepare the custard and toppings for about 20-30 minutes.

2. Quickly rinse and dry stand mixer bowl and sift in cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and icing sugar. Quickly stir. Add in almond milk, lemon juice, agave, and vanilla paste. Mix well scraping sides as necessary until all clumps are gone. Pour mixture into a bowl and place in microwave for 30 secs. on high. Remove and stir out all clumps with whisk. Repeat process 2 more times, whisking well to remove all clumps. Mixture will thicken up nicely. Set aside.

3. Prepare fruit and then place in a bowl with agave nectar. Coat all fruit and set aside.

4. Remove chilled dough from fridge and flour your surface. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out, one at a time, into a circle 1 inch larger than the tart pan. Let dough fall into tart pan. Take a rolling pin and roll the top to cut away excess. Remove with fingers. Repeat for other 3.

5. Bake Pâte sablée for 18-19 minutes at 400F. Cool for about 10 minutes.

6. Now grab your cooled Pâte sablée and fill with 2 tablespoons of custard. Layer on fruit and add more glaze with a pastry brush.

Serve and enjoy!

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Crust ingredients:

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My secret ingredient- Some finely grated vanilla bean all the way from Tahiti!

It adds tiny flecks of je ne sais quoi. ;)

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Get out your dough hook if you have one. You can also knead the dough by hand of course.

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When it forms into a ball, all is well in the world.

Wrap it with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge while you prep the vegan custard.

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Custard ingredients:

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My first attempt seemed promising…

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However, appearances can be deceiving…! Hrmph.

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Oh boy, I think I will pass on the clumpy vegan custard!

Now, open the window because you suddenly feel like you are getting a hot flash.

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Remove your sweater and prepare yourself a refreshing strawberry spinach salad to cool off.

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If you are like me, you might realize that you ate too many strawberries and have to rush back to the store to pick up another pint. These things happen to the best of us. ;)

Re-evaluate your chicken scratch recipe and keep the faith…

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Say a prayer and dive in.

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Vegan Custard Success!!

By this time, your dough has been chilling for so long you wonder if it may be frozen.

Luckily this is Canadian dough and it can survive even the coldest fridge. ;)

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Split your dough into 4 parts. Flour your surface and roll out a circle that is 1 inch larger than your tart pan (image left).

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Let dough fall into the tart pan and roll your pin over top to cut off excess. Remove with fingers.

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Pierce tarts with a fork, so the air can escape while cooking.

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Place in oven on the middle rack and bake for 18-19 minutes at 400F.

Now let’s make the fruit topping!

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I used Raw Agave Nectar, but you can easily make a glaze using a small amount of boiling water and sugar or red currant jelly.

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Kiwis just for fun.

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I made a mini tart because I had leftover dough.

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Once cool, place 2 tablespoons of the vegan custard into each shell.

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Layer on the strawberries coated in glaze.

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Spread on more glaze to finish them off…!

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Admire your creation…

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I prefer to take traditional classic recipes and think outside the box. Throw caution to the wind with toppings!

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You can even make a Vegan Chocolate Ganache!

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What have you got to lose? Your kitchen isn’t getting any cleaner! ;)

I mixed 1/4 cup of Michel Cluizel 85% dark chocolate (straight from Paris!) with 1/2 tbsp coconut oil. Heat in microwave for about 1 minute and mix. Easy as pie tarts.

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When life gives you ganache, make a banana ganache tart of course.

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or Kiwi-strawberry.

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Even…Peach salsa

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Any size you like.

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Your time has come.

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Sit back,

relax…

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…and with the first bite be transported to beautiful, delicious Paris…

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No plane ticket required.

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Just don’t ruin the moment by looking over at your kitchen. ;)

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The mess was worth it, trust me on this one.

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{ 149 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole @ Yuppie Yogini September 25, 2010

I’m truly impressed..those tarts look amazing! I think you’ve outdone yourself with this one!

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Kristina @ spabettie September 25, 2010

Angela these look AMAZING !

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) September 25, 2010

So impressive Angela! That must have been so much work to come up with a veganized version, I’m super impressed and I most definitely believe this will land you in the next round. Will these make an appearance at a Farmer’s Market? Hehe :)

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Annie September 25, 2010

Absolute works of art!

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Jennifer@ knackfornutrition September 25, 2010

Oh my goodness. Your kitchen!! Haha I hope that it looks worse than it is.Your tarts turned out beautifully!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 25, 2010

it actually was worse than it looked! LOL

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 25, 2010

(the mess that is!)

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 25, 2010

Oh my gosh… Angela these are GORGEOUS. Another amazing post for project food blog – incredible!

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Katey @ Bonne Sante September 25, 2010

C’est Magnifique! Custard is one thing I dearly miss as a vegan, however this recipe looks to be life changing!
This tart needs to make those tarts!
Good luck in the comp :)

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Lin September 25, 2010

Oh my gosh, VEGAN tarts with VEGAN custard??? I can’t wait to try this recipe!!! And your entry looks amazing!!!

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Lauren September 25, 2010

Those tarts are gorgeous! What a beautifully written post, Angela!

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Lily @ Lily's Health Pad September 25, 2010

Wow! I can’t believe you did that so quickly! You just arrived home. Oh She Glows never ceases to amaze. :-)

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Julie Grice September 25, 2010

Such gorgeous tarts…love all the different toppings! And your writing in this post was even more outstanding than its usual brilliance!

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Jenny@ The Healthy Teenager, green tea and yoga, not alcohol and parties September 25, 2010

Oh my gosh Angela you are so talented, it’s astounding. I think this may be my favourite post of all time from your blog.
I even dragged my mother over to the laptop to show her and she thought they look DELICIOUS!!! I am so going to try this asap!!
I would give an arm and a leg to have the chance to cook with you or be taught by you. You are a Vegan Food GOD!

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Stefanie September 25, 2010

Those tarts look better then the non-vegan ones. Your hard work was so worth it I am sure.

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erica September 25, 2010

oh my god. those look too pretty to eat!

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty September 25, 2010

WOW… these look amazing!! SO BEAUTIFUL!!

Are you going to sell these at the Market?

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Jocelyn @ Enthusiastic Runner September 25, 2010

That is absolutely AMAZING! I can’t believe you did that. WOW.

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April September 25, 2010

What a beautiful post!! I love your account of the trip to Paris plus the vegan version of the tarts…they look divine!!

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Marianne Soukas September 25, 2010

Those look so amazing! I am trying those this week!

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Michal September 25, 2010

I’m speechless. I need to email this to…. everyone I know.

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Laura September 25, 2010

Angela. My jaw is still on the floor. These are unbelievable.

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Melissa September 25, 2010

Your tarts came out beautifully, and I’m sure they taste every bit as good as they look! I’m impressed that you only had one “fail” before you created your masterpiece! I’m glad to see some French inspiration in your dishes!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 25, 2010

thanks everyone!

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RhodeyGirl September 25, 2010

Um….

YUM.

You’ve got my vote.

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Jen September 25, 2010

Oh my word….deliciousness a la internet! Those tarts all look incredible, but the banana/chocolate one has me drooling. Yum.

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Sportsgirl September 25, 2010

Wow! Genius!

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Allie (Live Laugh Eat) September 25, 2010

Oh Ange,

This is beautiful. I am making something French too, but not quite as elaborate. Of COURSE you have my vote.

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veganlisa September 25, 2010

Now that is a perfect post.
Welcome home. I’m glad you’re back on Canadian soil, baking up treats in your kitchen and snuggling with your loved ones. However, I loved every moment of your trip. Thanks for taking us all along for the tour of Paris. It was wonderful.

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Brooke September 25, 2010

I absolutely adore your blog … & Paris as well!
This was definitely my favorite post of yours yet!

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Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies September 25, 2010

Ahhh – these look amazing. Sooo beautiful!!

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA September 25, 2010

I love the step-by-step photos (including the custard fail). I can’t wait to see more Parisian recipes!

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Devon September 25, 2010

OK, as if I wasn’t convinced before, but I am now officially more-than-ever convinced. You need to write a cookbook. End of story. :)

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey September 25, 2010

OH my goodness – these look so good. I was wondering what the kitchen failure was all about earlier with the tweets!!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey September 25, 2010

oh, it looks like you succeeded! :)

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Camille September 25, 2010

Oh my gosh… these look incredible!

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Laura @ Backstage Pass September 25, 2010

Bravo, Ange! This recipe (and beautifully written post, photographs and composition) deserves a standing ovation. You are a rock star!!!

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Andrea September 25, 2010

I’m glad your back! I loved seeing your pictures from France, but I really missed seeing what kind of oats combo you would come up with next! :) I hope the jetlag isn’t too bad!

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Jess C September 25, 2010

This is quite possibly the most epic post ever!! Stunning!

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Gypsy September 25, 2010

Welcome back from Paris—love that you put aside your food restrictions and indulged on the Paris greats!
The comment about du beurre reminded me of this delicious dish I was eating a couple of months ago at a restaurant. I was so proud of myself for ordering the vegetarian dish – it was quinoa with various summer veggies and feta cheese and I was chowing it down. It felt so rich though and I thought why does this taste so good/rich? And I recognized the taste of butter! Must have been a whole stick in that poor little quinoa bowl. I hate how restaurants use butter in everything…
But I guess I would make an exception if I was in Paris – you only live once!

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Krystina September 25, 2010

Wow…speechless. So beautiful.

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Wei-Wei September 25, 2010

I just love love love this post! You should do more step-by-steps. :D

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Kath September 25, 2010

Stunning!!

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