Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Joy Tarts

I have many things I should be doing right now like laundry, cleaning, making meals, but something in me needs to be creative and expressive...so blog it is.  I have been meaning to blog this recipe for some time and now seems the perfect day and space.  Joy Tarts! 

This recipe was first discovered from a favorite blog I follow but made as larger Mounds Candy Bar . The Canadian equivalent to the US Mounds is "Almond JOY" and as I do love those bars, I knew I had to try this recipe.   Although there are so few ingredients in it that there is not much really to change, I did make a faster chocolate mix that keeps this more simple and faster.   And in a smaller form, I find them perfect for the Christmas season to decorate a plate to share with others. 

Although it is a short, simple word of three letters, Joy is not so simple to define.  For me, the word really does make me smile, it is not defined as happiness, and it stirs something  life-giving deep within me.  However you might define it, my hope is that by making these and sharing with others, they will extend life and a sense of Joy.

Joy Tarts
(makes 36 mini tarts)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut (medium shred)
1/2 cup coconut oil * (virgin organic and cold-pressed coconut oil is my preference)
1/4 cup liquid honey  (prefer raw honey)
1 tsp almond extract

36 whole almonds - toasted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
* See Cook's notes below

On very low heat, melt the coconut oil and honey as desired.  Coconut oil is firm and white colored at room temperature but will melt and turn clear on a warm summer day or just in the palm of your hand.  I would recommend using a slightly warm oven (with the coconut oil in a glass bowl), or a low heat on a stove top to liquefy the coconut oil.  No cooking is necessary and strongly discouraged to keep the nutritional value high as high as possible in the oil and honey.

 Add the extract and coconut and stir to combine.  It may appear as if there is not enough liquid but it does work.

Using a mini muffin pan, scoop about 1 - 2 tsp of coconut mixture into each cup.  Again, it will not look like much is there but it is plenty when you bite into them.  You may want to press down with your spoon on the tops of the tart to smooth out the surface.  Chill the tarts in a freezer for about 20 minutes.

While that is chilling, toast the whole almonds.  I put my nuts in a toaster oven and just heat them on a low heat for a couple of minutes - stirring in between.  If you don't have one, use a small skillet on the oven top (with medium heat) and stir the almonds until lightly fragrant and toasted.  Set aside to cool.

Then melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double-boiler or using the microwave if you prefer.

Remove the coconut tarts from the freezer.  Pour a small amount of melted chocolate on each tart and top with a whole almond.

Return the tarts to the freezer for another 15 - 20 minutes.  Once they are solid, they pop out of the pan pretty easy using a butter knife or nylon tool suitable for your mini muffin pan.

Best to store the tarts in the freezer.  I enjoy them best while they are served cold - even right from the freezer!

Cook's Notes:
Coconut Oil
This oil is definitely a healthy one found in health stores and health food section of major grocery stores.    Like most things, you get what you pay for with coconut oil.  I would suggest finding something virgin, organic and cold-pressed for the most nutritional value.  If you are not a fan of the coconut flavour (you likely won't be making these then) you can buy cheaper options as they often taste like nothing but they won't have the same nutritional value. 
Of the examples pictured, the Nutiva is (found at the Bulk Barn) is and is great overall option at a fair price.  The black container (bought at Zehrs) has no coconut flavour and was cheaper.  The left-side option was the best flavour and most expensive too.  Choose what works best for your needs and budget. 

The beauty of coconut oil is it is solid at room temp but will melt on a warm summer day or with the warmth of your hand. In this recipe, it helps the tart to stay solid and firm providing they do not get too warm.
In addition to using it in cooking/baking (in place of butter or oil), coconut oil is overall a wonderful oil to use for any skin irritations, dry skin, dry lips - either applied topically or eaten by the spoonful. When your jar is running low, be sure to save the little bits left for your skin needs.