Monday, July 25, 2011

Raspberry Chocolate Road Trip

I have been fortunate enough to take quite a few trips with my mother over recent 
years. We have cruised the Greek Islands, skied the Swiss Alps, and shopped 
along the quaint streets of Quebec.  This year, we managed to sneak in two mini trips on a tighter budget, without compromising on a little fun and adventure.  In April, we drove to Vermont and just last week took a road trip to the Finger Lakes region in upstate NY.  Neither of us has ever been and was struck at just how beautiful this area was.

Winery along lake Seneca

The perfect travel companion, my mother is always up for anything.  She makes the best of any situation and is as easy going as it gets.  At 5 am, I picked her up, filled the car with a tank of gas, and we made our way west for our six-hour drive.  We realized at the Berkshires that we hadn't yet turned on the radio because we were too busy chatting our way across Massachusetts.  My dog, who claimed the backseat, was as happy as could be hanging his head out the window and enjoying the scenery along the way.

Over the course of a few days, we made our way up and down Seneca and Cayuga Lake, taking in the gorgeous views from up above.  We found roadside stands selling blackberries and cherries and stopped at every turn to capture just one more photo.  We had an eye opening experience at a farm sanctuary, hiked alongside a gorge at a state park, and visited a few vineyards for some local wine tasting among the two hundred wineries located along the wine trail.  Lots of time soaking up the sun, swimming in the lakes, and sipping on chai tea lattes made another memorable mother daughter trip.  

Our swimming hole

One of the mementos I brought back with me was a bottle of raspberry liqueur from Finger Lakes Distilling.  Set on a hillside overlooking Seneca Lake, they use local fruit and grains to produce whiskey and sweet liqueurs.  There was an enticing little chalkboard sign out front encouraging you to 'un wine' from all the wineries at the distillery.  My dog was even welcome, where he had his own 'tasting' from a water serving station.  I picked up a bottle of raspberry liqueur, mainly because I am a sucker for all things berry, including raspberries.  But secondly, I knew I would be picking raspberries this weekend and was already at work concocting a raspberry dessert in my mind.  This would just be icing on the cake so to speak, or in this case...tart. 

I have a secret ingredient in this tart.  Tofu.  Yes, you saw that correctly.  Before you stop reading, let me just tell you it creates the most luscious, creamy consistency, and no one will ever know your secret.  It's blended with semi-sweet chocolate, raspberry liqueur, and vanilla extract and sits atop a homemade graham cracker crust.  You could certainly substitute a coffee liqueur for the raspberry if you're so inclined.  Bailey's or Kahlua might be nice.  If you wanted to omit the alcohol, you could even substitute brewed coffee in its place.

Once you chill this tart, it transforms itself into the most rich and decadent chocolate dessert.  This tart has a great 'wow' factor.  I've topped it with a great big serving of handpicked fresh raspberries.  Talk about a lot of love going into this one.  You must understand, raspberry desserts are my ultimate favorite.  I love them so much that I decided to forgo traditional cake at my wedding last year and had the most gorgeous mixed berry tart instead.  Since my husband doesn't eat chocolate, something tells me I'll be devouring most of this tart myself.  What a shame.  I think I'll have a slice of this and start organizing my photos from our latest road trip adventure.  Go ahead and try this tart!  I promise it won't disappoint.  You'll find yourself rushing through dinner just to get to this.

~Raspberry Chocolate Tart Recipe~
Inspired by Vegan Vittles

For the crust:
25 whole wheat graham cracker squares
6 tbsp just melted butter
1 tbsp raspberry jam

For the filling:
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg (1lb) silken tofu
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 quart fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350.  Place butter in a small bowl and microwave until it just starts to melt.  Combine the butter with graham crackers and jam in a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  You should have a wet, sandy texture.  Press this mixture into the bottom of a tart or pie pan.  I used a 9 1/2" tart pan with a removable bottom. (Note-I used a small amount of butter to grease the pan).

Bake the pie crust for 12 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  While the crust is cooling, you can get started on draining the tofu.  Place a few paper towels on a cutting board.  Place the tofu on top, and add a few additional paper towels on top of the tofu.  Gently press and squeeze out the liquid.  Let it drain for about 15 minutes.  

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Allow the melted chocolate to cool.  Add the chocolate, drained tofu, raspberry liqueur, and vanilla extract to the food processor.  Give it a whirl to combine.  Pour this mixture on top the crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate for one hour, then gently press and arrange raspberries on the top of the pie.  Refrigerate for at least another hour, or until you are ready to serve.  Serves 8-10.

Wild raspberries I spotted along our hike


Anonymous said...

What a nice trip! I've never been to NY and I haven't been to New England since I was around 7. I guess we both have our west/east limitations, haha. But I really want to visit NYC soon, at least (probably like the rest of the world).

Beautiful tart, by the way! My sister recently made a chocolate tart with avocados which really created a silken, dense texture, probably not unlike silken tofu. Great idea. Also, I think it's awesome you had a mixed berry tart for your wedding cake. So impressive and creative!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Amy! I do love New England...especially in the fall! A chocolate tart with avocados sounds pretty amazing. Two of my favorite things! I'm still dreaming about that mixed berry tart! :)

Epicurea said...

had you posted this two days earlier, i swear i would have made it for my finance's birthday (now all he got was quinoa pudding :-)). looks fabulous!

Stephanie said...

aww too bad, next year! ;)

kyleen said...

I love that this recipe is mostly vegan. I've tried making a chocolate pudding kind of filling with avocados once, but even my little brother who isn't a foodie could tell that something was off. I'll have to try it with tofu :D

Stephanie said...

Thanks Kyleen...No one was able to tell with this one! If you wanted to make it vegan, I'm sure you could substitute earth balance for the butter and go with vegan chocolate.

Epicurea said...

hi stephanie, actually i am planning to dedicate a blog entry on this dessert disaster - would it be ok if i used one of your raspberry cake photos (including a link to your recipe?) just to illustrate the extent of what fiance missed?

Stephanie said...

sure thing :)

Epicurea said...

done - thanks and happy cooking!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I have to admit, I almost did turn away when I read tofu, but the amazing photo of the finished dessert kept me reading on. I'm going to give it a try, it looks amazing.

Stephanie said...

Hi Sue, nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by. Don't let it scare you ;) The tofu is unrecognizable. People are always shocked when I tell them there is tofu in this-they don't believe me! :)