Pudding is one of the best things. I’ve always been a sucker for that old English pub staple – sticky toffee pudding. It’s the gooey, syrupy sauce which gets me. But there’s no denying that it’s probably the unhealthiest pudding out there, maybe bar cheesecake. Not surprising when its core ingredients are butter, double cream and sugar. But pudding can so easily be amazingly delicious and healthy without animal proteins and refined sugar, and arguably it can taste better, if not have more distinctive flavours.
This apricot tart hits that spot. The biscuity, nutty base has a wonderful crumbly texture which blends perfectly in the mouth with the cashew cream middle, and the juicy apricots add a raw freshness to top it off. This tart is brimming with cashews, which are packed with protein, as well as being a rich source of essential minerals and vitamins such as copper, potassium and various vitamin Bs. They contain loads of magnesium which is good for bone health and also ‘heart-friendly’ monounsaturated-fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids. The tart is sweetened only with apricots, dates, pure date syrup and raw honey, all unrefined and with health benefits that refined sugar completely lacks.
Apricots are one of the yummiest fruits, and I look forward to them all through autumn, winter and spring until I can gorge on them over the summer. Apricot jam is probably my favourite, although blueberry jam is a strong competitor. When fresh and raw apricots are rich in vitamin C, along with health-promoting phyto-chemicals and vitamin A, which aids good vision, healthy mucus membranes and skin. Spain is a great grower of apricots, but I’m lucky enough that apricots are grown on the Isle of Wight, just a little bit south of where I live, and my local greengrocer stocks them. They are so fresh and the epitome of local, seasonal food, which makes me very happy.
For the base:
- ½ cup of cashews
- ½ cup of ground almonds
- 1 cup of brown rice flour
- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons of date syrup
- 10 dates
For the filling:
- 1 cup of cashews, soaked in water overnight for at least 6 hours
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons of raw honey
- 5 apricots
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
For the topping:
- About 5 apricots
Start by pre-heating the oven to 180°C. Then, to make the base, place the cashews in a food processor and blend for about a minute until a kind of nut flour forms. Add the ground almonds, brown rice flour, coconut oil, date syrup and dates and blend for a further 2-3 minutes until a sticky biscuity dough forms. Grease a 10 inch flan dish with coconut oil to prevent sticking before putting the dough in and pressing down so that the centre dips down and there is mixture up the sides, reaching the top edge of the dish. Bake this for about 15 minutes until the top goes a golden brown and has firmed.
While it cooks make the filling, which really is so easy. Drain your cashews (it is vital that they’ve been soaked) before adding them to the food processor along with the water and blend for a good 3 minutes until the nuts have really broken down and begun to form a cream. After this, de-stone and roughly chop the apricots and add them to the blender with the honey and coconut oil. Blend again for a couple of minutes until all the ingredients and flavours have come together to make a thick, soft cream.
Once the base is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When it has completely cooled spread the cashew apricot cream over the middle and place the tart in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow it to set. To finish, slice four of the apricots in half, chopping the remaining one into small pieces for decoration, and push gently into the cream. Then you’re ready to slice and serve!