This post was created in partnership with Northwest Cherry Growers. All opinions are our own.
Okay, we get it. Valentine’s Day can be cheesy and overdone. On the flip side, it’s an excuse to eat delicious food with people you love–and what’s the harm in that? Growing up, my mom would decorate our house with red hearts and tape Valentines to the door of my room. While Alex and I don’t generally celebrate ourselves, now that little Larson is in the picture, it gives us a whole new excuse to celebrate the holiday.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here’s a new recipe for you inspired by the season. Inspired by that classic combination of sweet cherries and chocolate, we set about to create a healthy (or healthy-ish) vegan dessert. Why vegan? We’ve found that you readers love vegan desserts even if you’re not vegan yourself–which is also the case with us. Vegan desserts are also super versatile for serving to all sorts of diets. This chocolate sweet cherry vegan tart is rich and chocolatey using natural sweeteners and just a few whole food ingredients. Larson LOVES these little bites, and we don’t feel bad feeding them to him since the ingredient list is so clean. Here are our secrets:
- The crust is made of almonds, oats, cocoa powder, coconut oil and maple syrup, blended into crumbles and pressed into a muffin tin.
- The chocolate topping is made of just three ingredients: coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder. It comes together into the creamiest liquid chocolate that you’d swear had gobs of dairy and refined sugar.
- The topping is chopped sweet northwest cherries, which are the perfect juicy, naturally sweet foil to the chocolatey richness.
- These ingredients make the dessert vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free. But don’t tell anyone, because most of all they’re delicious.
This recipe was created especially for Northwest Cherry Growers using frozen sweet cherries. Fresh northwest cherries are available only in the summer months, but frozen or dried cherries are an excellent alternative that allow you to enjoy the health benefits of cherries year-round. Cherries freeze easily, so if you like the recipe, try freezing a couple of bags of fresh cherries next summer! It can bring you one step closer to the source of these tasty fruits.
A few of the health benefits of sweet cherries:
- Better sleep in every bite: Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which helps control your body’s internal clock and regulate your sleep patterns. Try eating cherries about an hour before bedtime to help stabilize your sleep cycle.
- Covert cancer-fighting agents: A study by the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center suggests that cherries possess cancer-fighting properties as well. Cherries contain ellagic acid, which appears to be a potent inhibitor to the growth of cancer cells.
- Boosted fiber intake: Many Americans are fiber deficient, falling short of the 25-35 grams per day recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. Eating cherries can help you reach the current dietary recommendation of two cups of fruit daily and can contribute to healthy weight maintenance, diabetes prevention and improved cardiovascular health.
And finally, the Northwest Cherry Growers! It is a self-funded & self-led grower’s organization founded in 1947 to promote, educate and research a variety of regionally-grown stone fruits, especially fresh sweet cherries. For more information on Northwest Cherries and to learn about the health benefits of cherries, visit NWCherries.com.
Let us know if you try out this recipe: we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Looking for vegan desserts?
We love vegan desserts as they work for guests with various diets. Here are a few of our favorite vegan desserts:
Did you make this recipe?
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, and naturally sweet.Print
- For the crust
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder (baking cocoa)
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- For the topping
- 4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup frozen sweet cherries (about 5 ounces)
- For the crust: In a food processor, blend the almonds, oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and kosher salt for several seconds. Scrape down the bowl, then pulse until evenly chopped and a crumbly mixture forms, scraping down again as necessary. Add wrappers to a muffin tin (optional). Place 1 tablespoon of the crust mixture into each cup and press it down with your fingers, to make 9 in all. Save the remainder of the crust for the topping.
- For the topping: Wash and dry the bowl of the food processor. Then add the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil and blend for several seconds until creamy. Using a spoon, place a dollop onto each of the 9 crusts and smooth it out gently.
- Defrost the cherries and gently chop them, then drain of excess liquid. Sprinkle the chopped cherries on top of the chocolate, then add some crust crumbles. (A few crust crumbles may remain, which you can discard.)
- Freeze for 20 minutes to set. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes to thaw before eating.