The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

chestnut and chocolate tart

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Last month a rather bizarre court case commenced and ended abruptly in Los Angeles, USA.

On one side was the refined sugar industry, represented by a group of major sugar refining companies. On the other was a consortium of manufacturers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), including global giants Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.

The lawsuit brought by the sugar manufacturers claimed that the HFCS manufacturers were guilty of “false advertising” by claiming in advertisements that HFCS was just as “healthy” as sugar.

For their part, the HFCS companies had brought a counter-claim accusing the sugar industry of waging a “campaign of misinformation” about HFCS.

The truth is that neither product has even a remotely legitimate claim to be “healthy”. This dispute centred upon claims each side had made in advertisements, and had nothing to do with the alleged “health benefits” of either product.

Both are highly processed, going through a series of chemical and other treatments before finally getting into our food (in many cases finding their way in there without us realising). They even have a very similar chemical composition, the main difference being a slightly higher fructose content in HFCS. Both products are also heavily implicated in a number of chronic medical conditions of the modern world, including Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, fatty liver disease and cancer.

The surreal court proceedings which briefly played out in a Los Angeles court seemed to have little connection to the real world, where both of these unhealthy products are making us ill. In the end, proceedings ended prematurely when the two sides reached an out of court settlement of their differences, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

You might say that this was one dispute where neither side deserved to win, but there remains one loser when it comes to the real issue at stake: we consumers, who eat the unhealthy products made by these companies, and in the process store up serious health problems for ourselves for the future.

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This recipe is for a vegan version of a dessert that has been a family favourite for many years.

Using only dates and maple syrup for sweetness, this beautifully light tart requires no cooking and produces a perfect balance between the chestnut, chocolate and subsidiary flavours.

chestnut and chocolate tart


for the base
90 g organic dates, pitted
160 g organic almond kernels
40 g coconut oil, melted
10 g organic cocoa powder

for the filling
300 g chestnuts, cooked
300 g silken tofu
80 ml maple syrup
50 g odourless organic coconut oil, melted
1 tsp organic vanilla essence

for the chocolate topping
60 g vegan organic chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
40 ml odourless organic coconut oil
20 ml maple syrup


1. For the base, place the almonds, dates, coconut oil and cocoa powder in a food processor and blend until the dates and almonds have broken down and the mixture has come together like a dough. Press this dough into the base of the cheesecake tin.

2. For the filling, place the tofu, chestnuts, vanilla and maple syrup in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the melted coconut oil and continue to process until combined. Pour this mixture over the base and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until set.

3. For the chocolate topping, place the chocolate pieces, coconut oil and maple syrup in a pan over a very low heat. Whisk or stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool for 2 minutes then pour over the top of the tart to form a thin layer.

4. Return the tart to the fridge to set, until required.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, raw, vegan

Tags: , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Breathtaking. Am definitely going to make this. Thank you! I love chestnuts so much.

  2. What a great recipe, and what a sad and bizarre state of affairs regarding sugar.

  3. We all deserve clear information to make healthy choices and its despicable how food lobbyists go out of their way to confuse us and muddy the waters in an attempt to blind side us to the simple fact that what they’re trying to sell us is unhealthy. On a happier note, this is a great recipe Steve! We’re definitely making this over the Christmas period! What brand of chocolate did you use? 🙂

  4. I have Frustose malabsorption, a debilitating condition that impacts on the gut. Fructose and many other associated short chain carbs occurs naturally in many foods, including dates, honey and almonds, apples and pears, pumpkins, onions and garlic. It creates a whole new issue when it comes to food labelling as many natural additives used by food manufacturers are not tolerated well. Cane sugar has a place in my diet, it’s a natural after all unlike corn syrup which comes from a GM crop.

    • Your condition must make clear food labelling all the more imperative. The fact that despite it (or because of it?) you yourself are a food blogger is really impressive.


      • I refuse to let my condition define me, I’m a cook, I’m adaptable and I know there are many who struggle to feed themselves within the confines of the diet. Hopefully I am making a positive contribution through blogging

  5. Fab looking dessert, just right for Christmas. Thanks for another delicious recipe.

  6. Thank you ! very inspiring ! hope to make this soon (chestnut season here I come!)

  7. This looks amazing! I haven’t had chestnuts in so long!

  8. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. I have made it yesterday night, glazed it today morning and shared it with loved one for today’s lunch dessert: it was amazing! smooth and flavorful. We all loved it 🙂

  9. I have to try this, looks and sounds awesome.. ty for sharing

  10. Could you please let me know what size cake tin you used? Thank you so much!

  11. Thank you, that’s what I thought! It’s in the fridge as we speak, I’ll finish it the morning for our Christmas Eve dinner!!!!!

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