Many of my clients with dietary restrictions tell me how they miss the foods they used to eat. I take great pleasure in finding satisfying, nourishing and (most important!) delicious ways to help them find the joy in eating again.
Late winter citrus and fresh maple syrup are two of my most favorite treats. This recipe is friendly for most food allergies and sensitivities, but it is also wonderful for those of us who don't have any food restrictions (in fact, none of my taste testers have food restrictions).
In developing this recipe, my taste testers were tied between the filling with tapioca or corn starch. Tapioca starch produces a gooey texture that clings to every crumb of the shortbread crust. Corn starch is much more firm and less sticky. My recommendation is to use whichever appeals to you the most (or whichever you happen to have on hand!).
Combine flours and tapioca starch. Using your fingers, blend coconut oil with the dry mixture until you have a course crumb with some pieces no larger than a pea (you can also pulse this mixture in a food processor). Drizzle maple syrup over dry mixture, working it through with your fingers until a crumbly dough forms.
Gather dough and place on a single piece of plastic wrap, cover with another sheet of wrap. Roll the dough until ¼ inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap and carefully slide dough into tart pan. This dough is extremely crumbly and it will break! Don’t worry, just gather as many large pieces as you can to fill in any cracks or seams, pressing gently to seal. (You can also simply press the dough into your tart pans—this is a much quicker method but the crust will be slightly uneven in some places). Bake tart shells in preheated oven at 325 for 15-20 minutes (until just beginning to brown).
Vegan Blood Orange and Maple Custard
For garnish: Cut skin from blood oranges into thin strips, place in pot with cold water and bring to vigorous boil. Allow skins to boil for approximately 30 seconds, strain and repeat this process two more times, starting with fresh cold water each time. (This process softens the peel and removes bitterness). Return the orange skins to the pot and add the maple syrup. Simmer on medium low heat for 20-30 minutes (until syrup is reduced by 1/3). Strain orange peel, being certain to reserve the syrup, and leave to dry on a metal rack. This garnish is particularly lovely the first day when still soft, though it continues to be delicious as it dries and becomes more chewy.
For custard: Simmer blood orange juice in a pan over medium heat until reduced by ½. Add reserved maple syrup, allow to simmer on low heat. Whisk reserved coconut milk with tapioca or corn starch (this is a slurry), being certain to combine thoroughly. Add remaining coconut milk to blood orange and maple syrup mixture, raising heat to bring mixture to a slow simmer. In a steady stream, slowly pour slurry into heated orange maple mixture, whisking vigorously and constantly to prevent lumps. When the slurry is fully incorporated, increase heat, bringing mixture to a boil, stirring constantly the entire time. Boil and whisk for approximately 1-2 minutes until mixture is thick and you can no longer taste the starch. Pour custard into pre-baked tart shells and chill until well set (4 hours or so). Garnish with candied peel.