At the market this weekend there was a bin of fresh apricots. I immediately grabbed a bag and filled it up. I love apricots. The flavor is nice but I mostly have a romanticized obsession with them based on their size, shape, color, and the way they feel to the touch. They are the most delicate fruit, almost sinful in size, so that when you take a bite into the soft skin you can’t help but savor the moment, knowing that you will be finished with the fruit shortly after.
Knowing this, I filled the entire bag. I’m glad I did because my SO went through half of them before I could even get to this dessert.
The apricots are really the shining ingredient and inspiration in this dish. They represent everything wonderful about the end of Spring and early Summer. They are light, juicy, refreshing, and innocent. There are no two people that could not bond over freshly picked apricots in the orchard (highly romanticized view, right??).
However, this is not the exciting part of this dish. There is a secret ingredient in here that I did not tell anyone about until they had eaten the entire tart: sea vegetables.
It is true. I used sea vegetable in this dish. I have a friend that is allergic to nuts and though this dish still has almonds in the crust it has allowed me to play with nut-free variations of a raw cheesecake/tart. Certain sea vegetables provide a firm base in which you can create a dessert and build from there. With this in mind I designed this dessert so eventually I can feed my friends … all of them.
The sea vegetable I used here is Agar. It is used as a plant-based gelatin (versus actual gelatin, which is made from animal hooves …). When combined with hot water it thickens and sets at room temperature. When combined with other thickeners it can provide a nice creamy based for puddings or tarts.
Agar is actually loaded with essential nutrients, as well. It has calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, folate, choline, and vitamins E and K.
It is also an excellent ingredient in desserts because it helps stabilize your blood sugar by absorbing glucose
in your stomach so that it doesn’t flood your bloodstream. Pretty neat, huh?
1 cup almonds
1 cup dates, soaked in warm water
Process in a food processor until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Dump contents out into a spring form pan (or any dish you’d like) and press down until even. I used a 6″ spring form pan.
Nut free cheesecake filling:
1/4 cup hot water
1 T agar flakes (not 100% raw)
2 T coconut nectar
3 T coconut butter
1 T coconut oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 t lemon zest
1 t vanilla (either from bean pod or extract, your choice)
In a small bowl, mix everything except the agar and hot water and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a near boil (and if you’re okay with it, to a complete boil). Scoop 1/4 cup out of the pot once it’s ready and mix with the agar. Whisk thoroughly until it is smooth. Once it has cooled for a couple minutes, add to blender with remaining ingredients. Blend on high until completely smooth. Pour on top of your crust and spread until even. (Now you must move quickly since the agar sets once it’s cooled)
3 apricots, thinly sliced
1 T coconut nectar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Toss ingredients in a bowl until well coated. Place the slices on top of your dessert in any way you’d like!
It is best to serve this immediately so the topping doesn’t make the dessert soggy. Otherwise, save the last step for just until you’re about to serve.
What do you think??