Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Oompa Loompa, doom-pa-dee-doo,
I've got a perfect puzzle for you.
Oompa Loompa, doo-ba-dee-dee,
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me.
What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats.
What are you at, getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come. Of. That?
I don't like the look of it!
Oompa Loompas are on to something. I love their wonderful advice, and their reasoning for it too (my favorite is for not watching TV - you get no commercials). Anyway, I've made a sweet. But it's Oompa Loompa sized, and dairy free. Topped with a berry so you get your vitamins too.
I've made tartlets before. I've made vegan dessert before. But never vegan tartlets, I figured, well, why not? For the tartlets I used coconut oil instead of butter, with coconut milk-based cream.
This was my first time working with coconut oil. I've had the idea for these in my head for a while, but the problem was butter in the short crust (short crust is basically just flour and butter with a bit of water). Then I saw a jar of coconut oil in the store. So I bought it (expensive!) without knowing much about it, but it looked to be of solid consistency and it said it can be used in baking. I did some online research (if Googling things is considered research) and stumbled upon Chef Marcus Samuelsson's blog post on coconut oil (I previously bought his Aquavit cookbook for my in-laws; plus the whole Scandinavian thing is near and dear to my heart). The post said you can use it in place of butter, simply to make sure the consistency is the same as that which is called for with butter (i.e. softened or solid). So I decided to give it a go.
The oil itself is actually rather flavorless and odorless. As a result it works really well as a butter substitute (there was no coconut flavor to the crust at all). The crust came out well. After baking, the crust was of the same consistency and quality as it would have been with butter.
Some notes: it is a lot more heat sensitive than butter. At room temperatures it is a goopy, really thick oil (ideally, for short crust, the fat should be firm). I popped it in the freezer for about ten minutes, but it still ended up being part goopy while parts of it solidified around the edge like cement. When working it into the flour, however, it easily formed into dough. Like buddah.
I then made the mistake of letting the dough rest in the fridge, as I would with butter-based dough. When working with butter, you simply take the dough out, give it a knead or two (Julia Child suggests hitting it with a rolling pin if it gets too hard, a practice I know is reserved for old Russian grandmothers if their husbands get too unruly). When taken out from the fridge, this dough was rock hard. But it quickly thawed after I started working it with my hands and became kneadable again. I would suggest letting it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes rather than letting it rest in the fridge.
After I rolled out the dough and was pressing it into the molds, the dough became greasier as the oil melted further from the heat of my hands. At that point I was afraid it wouldn't bake properly, but to my surprise it baked just as regular short crust, and easily came out of the molds.
As a result for me the difference was in preparation, due to the differences in its consistency and ability to change states (solid to thick goop or vice versa) much quicker than butter. I followed my old short crust recipe here (with step-by-step pictures), substituting butter with coconut oil. For the cream, I modified my recipe from here, as I wanted it sweeter for the tartlets.
Miniature Tartlets (Vegan)
(Makes 24-30 tartlets)
Vegan short crust
You will need:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp coconut oil (slightly colder than room temperature)
2-3 tbsp ice-cold water, more if needed
Miniature tartlet molds (you can use brioche molds, or miniature muffin molds)
1. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add coconut oil, and quickly work it into the flour with your fingers to form a crumbly texture. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough starts to form. Then on parchment paper, take 1/4 of the dough and smear it across the paper with the heel of your hand to blend the ingredients together. Repeat with remaining dough. Then form into a single ball, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease each mold with coconut oil. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin dusted with flour on dusted surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. With a small inverted glass or a round cookie cutter slightly larger than the widest diameter of your molds, cut out circles. Then place the circles inside the molds, pressing the dough to conform to the mold's shape. Roll a rolling pin on top or press with your hand to remove any dough spilling over the top.
3. Bake the tartlets for 7 minutes. Then prick the bottom of each with a fork to prevent from rising. Return to oven and bake 8-13 minutes more (15-20 minutes total), until the tartlets are pale golden brown. Please note baking time will vary depending on the size of your molds.
Coconut Cream Frosting
You will need:
1 15 oz can coconut milk, refrigerated for 24 hours
2 cups confectioner's sugar
After refrigerating the coconut milk for at least 24 hours (refrigeration separates the solids from the liquid), open the can of coconut milk and carefully spoon out only the solids into a mixing bowl. Discard the liquid or use elsewhere. Add sugar and beat with an electric mixer until well-blended and the mixture is thick, 2-3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the tartlets
Spoon the frosting into each shell. Top with a berry. Serve and enjoy.