Real food is about to hit its suffering season.
The treats of the “holiday season” are just too darn tempting this time of year, and people sort of shuffle their real food intentions off until…January. In January, suddenly, real food is the most popular kid in class.
I love a good underdog story.
That’s why I’m offering a real food indulgence today, a little push back against the sickeningly sweet offerings you’ll get elsewhere.
The best part of this story is where the recipe started.
I used to love finding holiday dessert recipes to try for family gatherings, and when I found one that went over well, I’d make it for a few years until it was like “my thing” at the big parties.
This Cherry-Almond tart was one of my favorites ten years ago or so. It used a boxed cake mix, graham cracker crumbs, butter and an egg to create a thick, moist crust in a cookie sheet. Topped with sweetened cream cheese frosting and a can of cherry pie filling, it checked all the boxes: super easy to make, looks fancy for a party, and my husband hates cream cheese so I got to enjoy all the leftovers.
As my real food journey progressed, however, I just couldn’t accept box mixes or canned pie filling. Finally over the last year, I’ve reverse engineered and retooled the recipe to be gluten-free, 100% homemade, very low natural sweeteners and brimming with nourishing ingredients like nuts, real fruit, whole grains, and probiotic yogurt.
Unfortunately, my husband really liked it, so now I have to share the leftovers. Such a bummer!
I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!
The Fancy Part
I can’t say this is as easy as the original (sorry) but that’s kind of the price we pay for real food. (We pay the price for processed food at the doctor’s office and with our health, so I’d say this is the better choice for sure!!)
We’re going to do a few things to really maximize the flavor (and nutrition) of this crust.
First, we’ll use crispy almonds that have been soaked and dehydrated to reduce phytic acid and release minerals. Then, we’ll toast them to develop a depth of flavor that will just pop on your tongue:
(and of course I toasted them on the tray I’ll use for my finished crust – save dishes every chance you get!)
Next, we’ll toast the oats as well to add so much more flavor (I’m not worrying about soaking these – just can’t do it all, all the time!):
Add some lovely melted butter (pastured if you can get it!) some light sucanat and an egg, and you’ll get this toasty brown crust that you just might have to taste before you even add the yogurt cheese frosting:
Add some fresh blueberries with a touch of honey, thickened, and you’re on your way to compliment-city:
It all comes together for a beautiful presentation:
- 1⅓ c. rolled oats
- 1 c. crispy almonds (measured before chopping; ¾ c. after food processing)
- ½ c. GF flour blend OR ¼ c. coconut flour (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) (also on Amazon)
- ⅓ c. sucanat
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ⅓ c. palm shortening
- 6 Tbs. melted butter
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- 1 egg
- 1 c. yogurt cheese
- 2 Tbs. maple syrup
- ¼-1/2 tsp. almond extract
- FRUIT TOPPING
- 1 c. berries (fresh or frozen; frozen blueberries pictured)
- 1-2 Tbs. honey (if needed)
- 1-2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
- To make the crust:
- Chop the almonds (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) by pulsing about 15 times in a food processor plus 2-3 seconds of processing.
- Spread the oats and chopped nuts out on 2 separate cookie sheets (use one of them for the finished recipe).
- Toast in a preheated 350F oven until lightly browned, about 6 minutes for the nuts and 15-17 minutes for the oats. Stir halfway through for each.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot.
- Put the oats and nuts back in the food processor and process until they are a fine meal.
- Add all the dry ingredients (flour, sucanat, baking powder and salt) and pulse to combine.
- Process in the palm shortening until the mixture looks like thick crumbs.
- Add the melted butter and almond extract. Process until combined.
- Add the eggs and pulse to combine.
- Butter a small cookie sheet with sides. Press the crust mixture in a thin layer on the sheet.
- Bake at 350F for 13-15 minutes until the edges are browning and crispy.
- Allow to cool before frosting.
- To make the frosting:
- Whip the yogurt cheese, syrup and extract with a fork or whisk until combined and creamy.
- Taste and add more sweetener or extract as you wish.
- To make the fruit topping:
- In the same pot as you melted the butter, cook fruit, honey and starch over medium-low heat until bubbly. Stir often! Give it a little time to cool, and it will thicken quite a bit as it does. Give it some time before adding more starch if you initially think that might be necessary.
- Build the dessert:
- Spread the frosting over the cooled crust.
- Spread the fruit topping over everything.
- Garnish with optional coconut shreds or slivered almonds just for looks.
- Slice into small bars to serve. They are strong enough to pick up (although being gluten-free, they're a bit crumbly) and also can be eaten with a fork.
- Store in the refrigerator (or on the counter if serving the same day). Best if eaten within about 2 days, although the ingredients last much longer than that.
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- For a boost in nutrition, integrate Vital Proteins collagen into the frosting. Just sprinkle on while you whip it up.
- For a special treat for a little one who might be grain-free like our baby, make a bigger batch of the frosting and put the extras in a Squooshi pouch. You could also use a stick blender to blend plain yogurt cheese with some of the fruit topping (no honey for children under one!). Or, like us, maybe you don’t see the need to baby to have any sweetener at all – just yogurt cheese with bits of fruit smaller than the opening of the Squooshi would be a fun, spill-free treat, since regular yogurt can too easily “squoosh” out of the pouches.