I’ve always loved chocolate and orange as a combination. Chocolate and mint is ok but, for me, chocolate and orange will always win out. This, like all opinions on food, is highly subjective. Samantha, my wife, has a preference for the choc-mint combo, though she does like the orange as well.
This dessert makes use of fresh orange juice and zest, mixed with intense dark chocolate to give it that classic amalgamation. It is a cheesecake, of sorts, and its creamy taste and texture is as undeniable as it is rich. Yet it is also a deep-filled chocolate tart, baked in the oven on a low to medium heat to prevent it from rising too quickly and then sinking again. The shortcrust pastry is cooked at the same time as the filling and not blind-baked beforehand. This sets the pastry just so, giving it a slight bite that is not too crispy or browned. For this to work your pastry must be thin. Too thick and you will have a squishy, undercooked dough supporting your chocolate centre. For this reason, I chose to use ready-rolled pastry, which is the prefect thickness for this kind of baking. It is a good idea, also, to leave it cool for a while in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Again, this helps prevent the tart from sinking too quickly. Half an hour will be sufficient for this.
Cooling time aside, this is a very quick and easy dessert to make. The filling is blended, and then whisked. The pastry you just unroll and place into the tart tin, and all the chocolate can be melted in the microwave. Due to the pastry, this recipe is not gluten-free, but you can always make your own easily enough. I have a recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet Buckwheat Shortcrust Pastry in my book, Going Vegan.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus a couple of hours chilling time.
For the Pastry:
Vegan margarine for greasing
1 x 320g sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry (I used Jus Roll), at room temperature
For the Filling:
1 x 200g block of vegan cream cheese (I used Violife)
150ml vegan cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
The juice and zest of one large orange
100g golden caster sugar
200g dark, dairy-free chocolate, melted
For the Topping:
100g dark, dairy-free chocolate, melted
25g vegan margarine, melted
100ml vegan cream
The zest of one orange (removed with a zester) to decorate.
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C/350F and grease a loose-bottomed tart tin with the margarine.
Unroll the pastry and lay it into the greased tart tin. It won’t cover the whole tin, but just cut off the excess and press it into the tin to cover the whole area, including up the sides. Prick a couple of times with a fork and set aside.
Put all of the filling ingredients, apart from the chocolate into a good quality blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour the batter into a mixing bowl then, making sure the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whisk the chocolate in with the batter until fully incorporated. This will cause it to thicken a little.
Pour the chocolate filling into the pastry casing and bake at the bottom of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, and the tart is set. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar for 30 minutes to allow the tart to set further.
Once you have removed the tart from the oven you can make the topping. In a small bowl, whisk the melted margarine in with the melted chocolate until fully combined. Pour in the cream and then whisk again until you have a silky-smooth chocolate sauce. Pour this over the top of your tart and use a large spoon to spread it out to the edges. Allow this to cool for another 30 minutes before putting in the fridge to fully set, which will take up to two hours.
Once set, remove from the fridge and top with the orange zest, then cut into 6-8 slices and serve.