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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Fresh Strawberries & Some GI Talk

Fresh strawberries make the perfect topping on this dark chocolate hazelnut tart.

 

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hazelnut tart

If you are a loyal reader (thank you, I love you!), you’ll know I’m on an anti-sugar campaign.  Not only due to our current efforts at a Whole30, but because of my long-running struggles with candida and leaky gut.

If you aren’t familiar, here’s a basic rundown…

Candida (AKA candidiasis or the c. albicans strain) is a yeast infection that most commonly occurs in the gut.  This strain of yeast is present in all of us but is only diagnosed at candidiasis when the presence of the yeast grows beyond normal ranges.  Most commonly (present day), this is caused by antibiotics, which kill off your good gut flora in an attempt to kill the bad stuff too, allowing an overgrowth of c. albicans.  It can also be caused or made worse by things like stress, a highly acidic diet (too many processed foods, including dairy, canned foods, hydrogenated oils, etc), or a parasitic infection (my personal situation), just to name a few.

The most common symptoms of candida include:  fatigue, gassiness, bloating, sugar cravings, and weight gain.   Many of the GI symptoms will demonstrate much like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and can often be misdiagnosed by mainstream MDs who are not familiar with candida.  This was the case for me, starting back in 2007 when I returned from a 6-mo stay in Honduras.  I’d contracted a parasite, which had infected my gut so strongly that I was severely lacking in good gut flora, an environment perfect a candida overgrowth.

I saw so many doctors, initially holistic or naturopathic (sadly, none of which payed much attention to the candida or gave me any diet recommendations), but eventually resorted to a Dr. at a parasite specialty center here in town.  This Dr. urged me to take antibiotics and it my desperation to end the then 2-year streak of symptoms, I gave in.  Immediately following a run through 2 different antibiotics, I began to notice I could no longer eat mushrooms without having an anaphylactic reaction.  And about 2 months after taking the antibiotics (summer of 2009), I had a pretty serious attack that ended up being the very last time I ate mushrooms to date. 🙁

All of this led me to an eagerness to learn as much as I could about candida and what I now know to be leaky gut.   Leaky gut is a condition where candida growth increases to a point that it causes a weakening and inflammation of your intestinal wall, and a resulting  permeability of your intestinal tract (or the GI mucosa, as cited here in Wikipedia).  This penetration of your GI tract leaks partially digested food particles into the blood, triggering a strong immune response to these “foreign” particles that are not typically found in your blood.  The result is often increased sensitivity to certain foods and in some cases (like mine), a full blown anaphylactic food allergy.

What’s sad is that if you do not know you have a candida problem OR you know you do but are not aware of how to treat it, you are continuing to cause greater food insensitivities in your body every time you eat.   One important step I finally took just  recently was to get an IgG allergy test.  Now, to clarify, this is different from the IgE scratch allergy test that many people are familiar with.  IgE measures immediate response (like my anaphylactic response to mushrooms), where IgG measures the body’s long-term resistance, or “intolerance,” to foods (generally a reaction that happens 24-48 hrs AFTER it’s consumed).  IgG reactions, being much more subtle, are hard to pin point on your own, being that you’ll eat a food and the symptoms are so delayed that you feel crappy (headache, mild GI discomfort, poor quality sleep, moodiness/hormone imbalance) and you just can’t figure out why.

hazelnut tart

hazelnut tart

hazelnut tart

The results of my IgG test have shed a fair amount of light on the path I need to be on to better health.  From the start of our Whole30, I’ve eliminated those foods that scored highest on my test and the results have been astronomical.  Not only did I eliminate sugar, one of the first steps to take if you suspect you have candida issues, but those other foods that have been wearing my body down and keeping my gut from achieving the balance I truly need.  My objective at this point is to avoid these foods for a period of 3-6 months to allow my body to heal and then begin to reintroduce them one at a time to see how I handle them.

I share this information with you in hopes that it will reach someone’s ears that may be struggling with some of the same issues.  If you have even the slightest inclination that you may be dealing with a candida overgrowth, this website is very helpful to give more info and direction.  Plus, don’t hesitate to message me and I’ll be happy to share more of the things that I’ve done to find healing.

So today I share a recipe that I’m pretty proud of, both for it’s sugar-free-ness but also because it truly satisfies the chocolate lover in me.   In an effort to make more truly sugar-free recipes available here at Bare Root, I delved into the world of date pastes this weekend.  It took a little experimentation but I found a consistency I’m happy with and that sweetens this Raw Dark Chocolate Tart sufficiently.  Just dates and water pureed together and you’ve got a WONDERFUL substitution for agave, honey, or maple syrup.

The crust can be made with any nut you have on hand.  As usual, I went straight to the hazelnut.  Partly because I had some meal/flour to use up.  The texture of the tart is like a thick, rich ganache.   If you substitute coconut oil for the coconut butter, you’ll lose the benefits of the fiber in the butter but gain a smoother consistency, like a softer ganache.  Both are equally rich and delicious but I gravitate to the butter because I know the extra fiber will offset the sweetness of the dates and lessen the blow to my blood sugar.  Also, fiber is more candida friendly!  And speaking of fiber:  if divided into 14 slices (it’s very rich so you may even be able to get more slices than that out of it), there are over 8 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per slice!

Ok, well if you are still reading, thank you thank you.  How was your weekend? Do you have room for some Raw Dark Chocolate Tart with Fresh Strawberries in your life right now? I hope so.

hazelnut tart

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Fresh Strawberries

Yields:  1 9-inch tart, approx 14 slices

For the crust: 

1 1/2 c. hazelnut meal/flour (or 2 c. raw hazelnuts-see below)

1/2 c. raw cacao nibs (can sub 1/4 c. raw cacao powder)

3 medjool dates

1/4 c. extra virgin coconut oil

1/4 t. sea salt

Directions: 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine hazelnut meal, cacao nibs, and sea salt and pulse for about 30 seconds to break up the cacao nibs.  Add the dates and coconut oil and process for 60 seconds, or until the dates are fully incorportate and the mixture sticks together when pinched.  Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan (with removable base) and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

To use raw hazelnuts:  Place 2 c. frozen hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground.  Be careful not to process for too long or it will turn into hazelnut butter.  2 c. hazelnuts will yield approx. 1 1/2 c. meal/flour.

For the filling: 

1 c. raw coconut butter/manna (can sub coconut oil)

1 c. full-fat coconut milk

1 c. date paste (recipe below)

1 c. raw cocoa powder

1 T. vanilla extract

Directions: 

Place the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor in the order listed (so cocoa powder is not on bottom).  Process for 1-2 minutes, or until mixture is a smooth texture, much like a chocolate pudding.   If using coconut oil, your mixture will be a bit thinner in consistency but will still set up well in the fridge.

Pour mixture into the chilled crust and smooth out with an offset spatula or back of a knife.  Chill for 30+ minutes before slicing and serving.  Serve with fresh strawberries (or any other fresh berry you have!).  Keep refrigerated.

Homemade Date Paste

(“Liquid” Sweetener Substitute)

Yields:  2 cups date paste

15 medjool dates (you will need more if you using the smaller noor dates)

1 1/2 c. filtered water

pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Pit your dates and cut into chunks.  Place in the carafe of a high-powered blender, along with the water.  Soak for 10 minutes before blending.  This will help yield a smoother paste.  Blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes until mixture is very smooth.

Adjust the water based on your personal taste.  The recipe listed here will give a slightly runny paste, close to the consistency of honey.  Add less water to create a thicker paste for spreading.

  • I am totally looking forward to trying this! (I have a grumpy sugar free man friend that needs cheering up)
    Also I just wanted to stay thanks you for talking about candida. My housemate has been complaining about the same stuff and I think this article could really help her 🙂
    -Megan (www.doihavefoodonmyface.com)
    Once again your photos are breath taking as well 🙂

    • Angela Gallardo

      Haha, this tart has got to cheer any grumpy sugar-free man up! It worked for my husband, at least. 🙂

      I’m glad you can pass the candida info to your housemate! I really hope it helps. Candida is nasty stuff.

      And thank you for the kind word on my photos 🙂

  • Hi Angela,
    I just found your blog and am really enjoying it! I too suffer from extensive food allergies and just recently had candida, IgE, IgG, and IgA tests done to determine what exactly I’ve been suffering from. I found all of the tests very helpful in bettering my health, and it sounds like you have too! I love that you’re on a sugar-free kick, as I’m always looking for healthful dessert recipes for me and my family. This tart looks delicious, and I look forward to exploring more of your blog! 🙂

    • Angela Gallardo

      Hi Lauren!
      Thank you for your thoughtful message! I’m so glad you came across the blog. It’s great to hear a story of someone else benefiting from the allergy tests and I truly hope that you find some relief from the new information you have. 🙂

  • Clarice Backus

    Just wanted to thank you so much for this recipe! My family is on day 22 of Whole30 and we need a little inspiration to keep going and finish strong. Love the date paste recipe–thank you! I’ve been subbing dates for sugar in some of the standard paleo muffin recipes (we need muffins for my two little boys!)

    So glad I found your blog. Best!

    • Angela Gallardo

      Hi Clarice! I’m so happy to hear that you found a little inspiration for your Whole30! We had a rough time this past week (days 11-17 or so) but we’ve really tried to reengage this week and finish strong. I’m impressed you’re doing it with kids! It’s hard enough with just the two of us.

      I just discovered using dates and I can’t believe it took me this long! I haven’t tried them in muffins, just bananas so far. Anyway, thanks for your sweet words. Best of luck in your last week! 🙂

      • Clarice Backus

        Hi again! So I just wanted to pop back over to say that I made this tart tonight for my husband and it. is. divine!! What a life saver. I will definitely make it for company in the future. Thanks again. Best to you!

        • Angela Gallardo

          Hi again, Clarice! I’m glad you stopped in again to give feedback! Next time you make it, am I invited? 🙂

          You guys are almost done with your Whole30, congrats! We’re starting our second one today, yikes!

    • Angela Gallardo

      Oops, I meant days 18-24!

  • Beautiful recipe! Looks so indulgent and decadent, you would never know it’s actually made of healthy stuff. I used to follow a low sugar diet and felt great on it, I really should get back to it and it’s recipes like this that make it seem much less daunting 🙂

    • Angela Gallardo

      Thanks for sharing, Aimee! 🙂

  • Carina

    This looks heavenly, and thank you so much for the info on food sensitivity testing (IgG)! I also love the stand you presented this on, it is beautiful!

    • Angela Gallardo

      Thanks Carina! It’s from Cost Plus World Market!

  • Sasha

    Can I ask about Candida and dates? It’s my understanding dates are super high in sugar (albeit natural, non-processed sugar). Does that not feed/worsen Candida?

    I’ve recently learned I have Candida and am trying to figure out if I need to cut out ALL forms of sugar…or only those that are of the processed variety…

    Thanks!

  • Alison

    I’ve made this twice now and love it! It’s making being sugar free easy. Thanks.

  • Gosh! This looks great and delicious. Love that’s only coconut, dates and cocoa. I was searching the web for a paleo dessert and most of them include almound flour. The thing is: I’m from Brazil and I can’t find the almound flour, so I gotta do my own and it really does not turn out like flour.
    I’ll definetely try this tart! <3

    • Angela Gallardo

      Hey Bianca! So glad you came upon the tart recipe! Funny you mention the almond flour, I’ve been getting more and more requests for desserts without it. Either people can’t get a good one, like you, or they have nut allergies. So check back, I’m going to be posting more of them! 🙂

  • I made this last week for a girls night…to die for!

    • Angela Gallardo

      Awesome! So glad to hear it.

  • April

    Hi,
    I made your amazing tart! It all tasted delicious however, it didn’t set 🙁 even after hours in the fridge?
    Any suggestions on what I may of done wrong? I did use coconut oil instead of the butter, would that be why?
    Thanks April x

    • Angela Gallardo

      Hey April, I’m so sorry it didn’t set up for you. It would definitely not be because you subbed coconut oil, as it becomes solid at chilled temps. A couple of thoughts…did you use only 1 cup of date paste? The date paste recipe alone will yield twice that and I apologize if that caused any confusion.
      Otherwise, if you used the exact measurement for cacao powder and full-fat (not light) coconut milk, it should’ve set up. I’m going to give it another go soon to troubleshoot and I’ll get back to you if I find any issues with the recipe.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  • This is sooooo incredibly delicious. My girlfriend made it last night and I will be making it too. Have also shared it on Facebook. Thank you for such a great tasting, yet healthy recipe. Just a side note, she served it with a mixed berry sauce and natural yoghurt instead of the strawberries.

    • Angela Gallardo

      Wow, mixed berry sauce and yogurt sounds like a great idea for topping. You’re inspiring me to do something different than strawberries next time! I’m happy you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

  • I made this for a work related summer party. I subbed out hazelnut flour for almond flour due to what I had at hand. Nevertheless someone asked me the crust was made from a skore bar! Also there were a few diabetics at the party that were so grateful that I brought something with no added sugar. Lovely dessert, thank you for sharing this.

    • Wow, a Skor bar..that’s amazing! I’m really pleased it went over so well for your party and I appreciate the feedback. <3

  • Sara

    Hi there this sounds like an amazing recipe i am going to try not so much for the sugar benefit (though welcome) but for the pure tastiness however i cannot get my hands on dates and am going to use stevia, would you happen to know how much to use instead of the dates (i have googled but to no avail!) thanks so much xx

    • Hi Sara,
      Unfortunately, I can’t really advise you on how to sub stevia for the date paste. My best guess is the chocolate filling will not be as smooth and may need some water added since the date paste has a lot of water. If you try it, let me know how it works!
      Angela

  • OMG! I found your blog via Pinterest just few minutes ago and already fall in love with your blog! Beautiful recipes and pictures 🙂

    Your recipes sounds so easy – even for people like me who don’t speak English very well…

    Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate it.

    Beyhan x

    PS: I have seen your post is from 2013 – anyway I hope everything is going well…

  • Sam

    Why do you need to use a 9-inch tart pan (with removable base) for this? Can you use a springform pan instead?

    • Anything with a removable base should work just fine! Just makes for easy cutting. And I had specified a tart pan because the shorter walls match up with the amount of crust. I’m sure a springform will work!

      • Sam

        Thank you, Angela! Love your blog.

      • Sam

        I should probably just buy a tart pan because this recipe looks amazing, and I will likely be making it over and over and over again! 🙂

 

Your Perfect Paleo
Build-a-Meal Formula

Take your Paleo meals up a notch with my tried-and-true formula for balanced meals that will leave you satisfied & full for hours.

It's free!