I'm like a giddy schoolgirl when summer comes around. I know it's not summer yet, but the produce selections are starting to look like it, and that's good enough for me. Fruit-wise, it doesn't get any better for me than strawberries (peaches are a close second). They take me back. We had a strawberry patch in my back yard when I was growing up, and I would root around on my hands and knees to find the biggest, juiciest ones. I apologize in advance if this blog gets a little strawberry-obsessed this summer. I simply can't help it.
Like most of the dishes I make with strawberries, this is simple and pretty unadorned. Strawberries don't really need a lot of help in the flavor department. Nothing's worse than having a gussied-up dessert that hides the true potential of its main star.
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter, cubed and cold
2 tbsp vegan chocolate chips (Ghirardelli brand is usually the only vegan option available at the store)
2 lb. strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
2 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
2 tbps cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp of vanilla extract, or 2 vanilla beans, sliced and scraped out
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Make the filling: Combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl and stir to combine. Set it aside for 30 minutes so the strawberries will release their juices.
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt about 10 times to combine. I usually put the cubed butter into the freezer for a minute or two while I'm doing this, so it'll be good and firm. Drop the butter into the food processor and pulse another 10 times, until the butter is the size of peas and is combined well into the flour mixture.
Add the water and pulse a few times until the dough is crumbly, but can stick together when you press it.
Put the dough into a tart pan and press it flat, working it into the corners and up the sides. If you've ever made a graham cracker crust, this is pretty much the same thing. You should have plenty to work with.
Place your tart shell on a sheet pan and put it in the oven for 20 minutes to set it up.
Put the chocolate chips into a bowl and melt them in the microwave for 25-30 seconds or so. Once they're hot enough, you should be able to stir them until they're fully melted.
Lightly spread the chocolate over the top of the crust with a pastry brush. You can also just do this with the back of the spoon, but do it carefully as the crust will pull away with your spoon if you do it too fast. Don't worry about going up the sides of the pan, Just a thin layer of chocolate over the bottom of the pan will do.
Give your strawberries a stir. They should be much juicier than they were when you set them aside. Pour the whole thing into the prepared crust and spread it around evenly. Put the tart shell onto the sheet pan and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes. Once it's done, pull it out and let it cool on a rack.
It'll still be pretty juicy, though the juices should be thicker by now. Once it's cool, you're pretty much ready to go. You can eat it as-is or top it with a sprinkling of cocoa powder or powdered sugar, if you want. Vegan whipped cream would be nice on this as well.