This post is sponsored by California Dates. All images and opinions are my own.
While I’m not into all the sappiness of Valentine’s Day, I do enjoy it as a day to share my love for friends and family with a card or special treat. Plus, I’m always up for any excuse to celebrate with a festive dessert, especially when the style aesthetic includes hearts and lots of pink!
Since love and chocolate are practically synonymous, in my mind, I collaborated with California Dates to create Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Tartlets perfect for sharing with your loved ones (even if that means you eat them all yourself). These tiny tarts are free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar (sweetened naturally only with California Dates), yet they are PIG on flavor! The chocolate crust is like a big no-bake cookie thanks to the California Dates (which work wonderfully at binding and adding moisture in gluten-free recipes), and I filled them with a coconut milk strawberry mousse filling that’s made with lots of fresh berries for a creamy, dreamy texture similar to strawberry yogurt. You can even replace the gelatin, in the mousse, with agar-agar to make them vegan. Top them off with even more berries and chocolate, and you have a pig-ture perfect finish to the sweetest holiday of all. Eat your heart out!
Ingredients: (makes 5, 4″ hearts with leftover mousse)
Chocolate Date Crust:
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
5 heart-shaped tart tins (I used 4″ pans)
1/2 cup packed California Dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for 15 min
2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup California Dates, pitted
3/4 cup hot water
Pinch sea salt
Strawberry Mousse Filling:
1/3 cup cold water
2 teaspoons grass-fed gelatin or agar-agar powder (to make vegan)
1 can original coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries
1/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries
2-3 tablespoons date paste (sweeten to taste)
Marzipan dough or white fondant
Freeze-Dried strawberries (for color)
Strawberry fruit leather or fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon coconut oil
Small heart-shaped cookie cutter
Small round piping tip or toothpick
- Place the dates, for the date paste, into a shallow bowl and cover with the hot water. Allow them to soak for 30 minutes while working on the crust.
- To make the crust, prep your tart pans by lightly greasing them with melted coconut oil (you can use a clean paper towel dipped into the oil for this). Drain the dates for the crust, and add them to a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
- Add the other crust ingredients, and continue to process for about 1 minute, or until the ingredients start to stick together.
- Evenly distribute the crust between the tart pans (about 4 TB each), and firmly press it into the bottom and up the sides using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a small drinking glass (the back of a spoon also works well). Transfer the pans to the fridge while making the filling (I find it helps to place them all on a baking sheet first to make it easier to move them around).
- Next, let’s blend together the date paste which we will use to sweeten our filling. Transfer the dates and water they were soaked in, along with a pinch of sea salt, to either a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend until smooth (you may have to stop and scrape the bowl a few times while doing this). Transfer the date paste to an airtight container.
- Now it’s time to make the deliciously creamy strawberry mousse filling! Pour the cold water into a small bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin powder (or agar agar) over the top. Allow to bloom while moving on to the next step.
- Heat the coconut milk in a small sauce pan over med heat until just simmering.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the gelatin until dissolved.
- Transfer the coconut milk mixture to a high-speed blender, and blend with the strawberries, vanilla, and date paste. Sweeten to taste.
- Pour into the tart shells, tap the tarts gently to remove air bubbles, and transfer to the refrigerator to set, at least 6 hours or overnight. (Any extra filling can be poured into small bowls and refrigerated.)
- Time to turn them into cute pigs! Add crushed freeze-dried strawberries to a 3 inch piece of either the marzipan or fondant and knead it in to evenly distribute the color. Roll the fondant out to 1/8 inch, and use the heart-shaped cutter to cut out 10 hearts for the ears.
- Shape the rest of the dough into 5 ovals for the snouts. Then use either the piping tip or a toothpick to stamp the nostrils into the snout.
- Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a heat-proof bowl, in the microwave, in 30 second intervals at 50% power. Stir, and continue to microwave until smooth and melted.
- Lay a piece of wax paper over your work surface, and use a toothpick dipped into the melted chocolate to “draw” the eyes and mouths for each pig. Allow to set
- Right before serving the tarts add the chocolate and marzipan (or fondant). Enjoy!
California Dates are a great way to naturally sweeten anything you’d like as they can replace regular sugar 1:1. Try leftover date paste in a smoothie, overnight oats, or anything your heart desires! Extra tartlets can be covered and stored in the refrigerator (remove the marzipan or fondant before storing, and store those separately in a zip top bag at room temp). If you try this berry cute dessert please let me know, I would love to see your version! You can learn more about California Dates by visiting DatesAreGreat.com.