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"We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie." David Mamet

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 5: Chuck's Set Yourself Free Lemon Tart

So I cued up the turntable, lit up some nag champa, and settled in for an hour of totally free baking. The result was this funkalicious gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan lemon tart.  Some might say it needs a makeover - and surely in more gifted hands it would look less like a pinch pot - but it's what's inside that counts, right? It is badass healthy. The crust is seed-based with a hint of cocoa, or cacao. The lemon filling is creamy and tart, using a combination of stevia and coconut sugar for just the right touch of sweet. I usually find stevia too bitter, but lemon carries it well.

This pursuit came out of a promise for a healthy desert recipe for our Thanksgiving host and dear friend, Chuck, who recently changed his diet.
That 70's Tart
Without the holy trinity of flour, butter, and sugar, I doubted I could pull off an edible pie. But I channeled my crunchy-granola-70s soul - or Chuck's - to find the right combo of tastes. This recipe is adapted from Hallie Klecker's excellent gluten-free and from a knock-off of the Hail Merry Lemon Tart filling from

For Thanksgiving, I might try to improve the looks by using mini cupcake forms - I'd press the crust mixture into a 1/4" base, fill the cups with the lemon cream, freeze them, then peel away an elegant looking dessert. But don't you think that would be false advertising?

Chuck's Set Yourself Free Lemon Tart
Adapted from and

  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least one hour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup full fat canned coconut milk (shake the can before you buy it; you should hear no sloshing)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, that's about 2-3 lemons depending on the size, and more to taste
  • 1/4 cup honey (or your favorite sweetener alternative; I used stevia and coconut sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract 
  • Grated zest of 2-3 lemons 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon zest strips and coconut flakes for decoration

Dough will come together after adding liquid, and a few pulses
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Oil the wells of a muffin tins with coconut oil.

To make the crust: In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the sunflower seeds, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add coconut oil and maple sugar. Process about 15 seconds, just to combine. The mixture should stick when pinched. 

To achieve a pinch-pot look, cut out a strips parchment and press into each muffin well - this will be your hoisting device. I know this seems crazy, but it worked. Then take 2 1/3 tablespoons of dough and build up from the bottom to create a little pot. 

For a more elegant looking dessert: insert muffin liners, press dough into the bottom about 1/4" depth. 

To create a pie: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, divide dough in half, pat both into 8" circles. Bake dough for 10-15 minutes. Pat down any bubbles that form and let cool completely.

To make filling: Process all ingredients, except for lemon zest and coconut, until silky smooth - this will take at least 7 minutes. Be patient and keep checking. You don't want any hints of cashew. Taste to adjust sweetening or lemon. Beware that Stevia is very potent and a little goes a long way. Depending on your crust method, fill the cups or spread out onto the pie base. Refrigerate until set.

Like when you make brownies, line the muffin well with a strip of parchment for easy removal.

When the pinch pot tarts are ready, just ease them out using the parchment tabs. 

This was Chuck in his wild child days.
Now he has two semi-wild children and a wild wife of his own.

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