Date: 2010.12.15 | Category: Dairy free, French cuisine, RECIPES | Tags: ,,,,

    There is nothing better than a light desert after a satisfying meal. It is a way to delay a little longer the inevitable end of a pleasant moment, maybe over a cup of herbal tea or coffee.  And if you take this philosophy of life a little further, you have my motto: “Life is short, eat desert first!” But American pies, cakes and the likes tend to be a little too sweet and heavy for my taste (especially after a meal), so most of the time I end up skipping it altogether. But there are so many ways to create delightful bites of sweet pleasure for exactly that occasion!

    Take the traditional French tart, lightly caramelized on top, tender in the middle and flaky on the bottom, yum. Well, yesterday, I noticed 2 pears that needed some TLC, so I decided to make a tart, but as I was in the process of assembling the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have enough vegan butter and pastry flour (what kind of cook doesn’t have enough flour, really!) So I did the unthinkable, I used vegetable oil and some chick pea flour instead! I had no idea how this was going to turn out. I had only 2 pears and 1 apple to work with, so it wasn’t enough to fill an entire cookie sheet, so I decided to make individual tartlets instead, the rustic kind. No two alike, each its own unique creation! In other words, I was improvising big time.

    Believe it or not, it came out really nice with a light flaky crust. The chick pea flour gave the crust a nice golden color and to my surprise, no extra flavor. And if this wasn’t good enough, I looked it up and found out that a half cup of chick pea flour also provides 10 grams of protein, lots of calcium, magnesium, potassium, so my tart was nutritional too! How about that! You can have your cake and eat your nutrients too! It gives a whole new meaning to sweet!

    Note: The dough will feel a little weird when you use oil instead of chilled butter. It resembles a soft fatty ball. I only chilled it for 5 minutes (I didn’t have all day to bake!) I didn’t want to add to much flour for dusting not knowing what would happen with the texture, so when I tried to roll it, some pieces stuck to the board. So I had to do a little patching here and there but you can’t see it after you bake it.


    1 ½ cup of wheat pastry flour (plus 1/4 cup for dusting)
    ½ cup garbanzo bean flour (also called besan or chana in Indian stores)
    ½ cup vegetable oil (Canola ok but not olive oil!)
    4-5 Tbl iced water
    ½ tsp salt
    2Tbl sugar

    3 ripe pears (or mix of pears and apples is fine too)
    1-2 cups of sweetened apple sauce
    Juice from ½ lemon
    1 tsp arrowroot* (or 2 tsp of cornstarch*)
    Sugar for dusting


    1. Heat up the oven to 390 F. Ligthly oil a cookie sheet.
    2. Put a few ice cubes in a small glass.
    3. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.
    4. In another bowl, combine the oil and the iced water.
    5. Mix wet ingredients into the flour mixture.
    6. Make a ball and put into a plastic bag. Refrigerate for 10mn.
    7. In the meantime, peel, core and slice the pears and apple. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with natural sugar. Juice the lemon and mix the arrowroot in it. Pour it over the fruit and gently toss to coat evenly.
    8. Take out the dough from the fridge, dust a surface and gently roll it. It could stick to the pin, so be gentle.
    9. To make individual tartlets, roll out the dough thinly, there is no need to prebake. Just take a jar or the lid of a glass jar and cut out circles.
    10. Place a little apple sauce in the middle (sprinkle a little sugar if the apple is not sweetened), then a few slices of pears, gently lift the tartlet with a spatula and put in the palm of your hand, use your fingers to fold the edges in a few places. Sprinkle again with a little sugar and place on a greased cookie sheet.
    11. Bake at 390F for 15mn until golden.
    12. Remove from oven and put an even thin layer of apricot or peach jam over it while it is cooling off. This will create a nice glaze for your tartlets. Makes between 6-8 tartlets depending on the size of the tartlet you make.

    NOTE: If you have more fruit, you can cover an entire cookie sheet. If the dough comes appart, just patch it. Poke a few holes all over and bake for 15mn at 380F. Then cover with a layer of apple sauce, then neatly layer the pear and apple slices. Sprinkle with more sugar. Bake for 20-25mn at 390F.  See step 12 for adding the glaze.

    * Cornstarch: I stopped using it, because I found out that more than 80% of the corn grown in the US is used for animal feed in factory farms and a good part of it is genetically modified. Virtually no testing has been done on the safety of human consumption of GMO corn. The excuse being that most is being used for animals so why bother, but numerous by-products are made from this same GMO corn (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, corn meal, corn chips, apparently, white distilled vinegar is also made from corn…) and end up in practically everything that we eat. If that wasn’t bad enough, most cornstarch also contain aluminum in the form of Sodium Aluminum Sulfate (Rumford and Magic baking powder are the only aluminum free brands I am aware of).

    So I now use *Arrowroot. This West Indian root was traditionally used to treat wounds caused by poison arrows so it cured poisonous substances and healed the wounds. I may just try it next time I cut myself! Make a little paste by mixing a little powder with some water. I will let you know what happened! I don’t know about you but I am all for moving my pharmacy into my kitchen.

         Usage: Substitute 2 tsp of arrowroot to 3 tsp of cornstarch.
         Use 1 tablespoon of arrowroot with 1 cup of liquid to thicken a sauce or as a gelatin substitute.

    Unlike cornstarch, your dish can be refrigerated, frozen and thawed nicely without turning into a jelly like mush.
    It is a little more expensive than cornstarch but so worth it.
    Actually, if you buy it bulk it is almost the same, minus the aluminum and the GMO!
    What a deal!

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