I’m starting to see a pattern – although one which may not be official. Back in June we celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Today is Qi Qiao Jie which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar – Chinese Valentine’s Day.
I haven’t seen any evidence of the schmaltz and commercialisation associated with Valentine’s Day in the West apart from a few restaurants advertising Valentine’s specials. The cynic in me interprets that as ‘any old excuse to put bums on seats’….
There are two legends surrounding the origins of Qi Qiao Jie both of which involve the alignment of the stars on this auspicious day.
The Goddess of Heaven had seven daughters who one day were visiting the earth and bathing in a river. Their antics caught the eye of a cowherd called Niu Lang who decided it would be fun to run away with their clothes. The prettiest daughter Zhi Nu, who happened to be the seventh born, was sent to ask Nui Lang to return their clothes.
Since the cowherd had seen Zhi Nu naked they had to be married – and they lived happily for many years until the Goddess of Heaven found out her daughter had married a mere mortal and ordered her to return to heaven. As a peace offering to the heart broken lovers legend has it that on the seventh night of the seventh moon magpies form a bridge with their wings allowing Zhi Nu to cross to reunite with her husband once a year for just one day.
Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were two lonely fairies living on opposite sides of the Milky Way. Feeling sorry for them, the Jade Emperor of Heaven decided to play matchmaker. Unfortunately, his plan worked too well and they were so enamoured of each other they fell head over heels in love and neglected their work! Annoyed at the situation, the Emperor decided that they could only meet once a year – on the seventh night of the seventh moon. Now Niu Lang waits on the west side of the Milky Way for his lover to join him from the east side once a year on this day.
I’m sure this dessert would soothe any broken heart. It’s ticks a lot of modern day boxes too:
- It’s gluten free
- It’s raw
- It’s healthy
- It’s delicious
- It will last in the fridge for a week, or until it’s gobbled up
I guess it’s vegan too. Who knows, it’s too hard to keep up.
It is dead easy though. Just process walnuts and dates together until you get the texture of gritty sand and it all sticks together. Dip your fingers in water first and then press the mixture into a tart tin and leave in the fridge for an hour or so. And refrain from toasting the walnuts in the oven first like I was about to until I realised that would make the ‘raw’ bit of the recipe null and void. But if you’re not bothered about that, go ahead and toast to your hearts content as I think it would be really nice.
See that luscious, shiny, chocolate mess? It’s smooth and creamy and….quite lovely. And it’s just avocado, cocoa powder, lime and honey.
I dare you not to eat it by the spoonful. Best bit about it?
- You can now legitimately sneak greens into your kids food and they won’t know
- Those avocado halves going brown in the fridge? Now you know what to do with them
- It’s a pretty much no brainer guilt free dessert. So you can eat more right?
Ok that was three bits.
You know me I can’t resist a tinker with a recipe. I sprinkled chilli salt on top I couldn’t help myself. The salt was a present from Mum and apparently there was liquorice salt on the stall too – now that would be awesome sprinkled on top I reckon.
I should have just given up at this point and doused icing sugar all over the plate.
I can’t promise you’ll turn into a fairy or a goddess after eating these tarts, but then would you want to without a guaranteed happy ending?
I think I prefer Story 1 what about you? I wonder if this is where ‘star crossed lovers’ originated?
Raw Chocolate & Raspberry Tarts for Chinese Valentines Day
- 1 punnet of raspberries
For the crust
- 160 g walnuts
- 120 g pitted medjool dates
- pinch of salt
For the avocado chocolate filling
- 2 large very ripe avocados
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- juice of 1 lime I tried it with lemon too and lime is definitely better if you can find one
- 4-6 tbsp maple syrup
To make the crust:
Process the nuts, dates and a pinch of salt in a food processor until it’s all ground down finely and has the texture of coarse sand.
Dip your fingers into water and press the crust mixture into four 10cm loose based tartlet tins to form an even layer all round.
If you’re a little OCD like me, you will of course weigh each tin as you go along to make sure you have the same amount of crust in each ……
Put in the fridge for a couple of hours.
To make the puree:
Skin and stone the avocados and put the flesh in a food processor with a good squeeze of lime juice and 3 tbsps of maple syrup. Process to a velvety, luscious puree. Taste and add more sweetner and lime juice as needed.
The crusts will ease away from the tarts cases when you push the base up gently. Use a thin metal spatula to separate the base from the bottom of the crust.
Spoon the puree into the tart cases and top each with raspberries, a drizzle of maple syrup and finely grated lime zest.
Recipe NotesThere’s plenty more you can do with this recipe – layer it in a glass instead of making a tart with mango puree, add orange zest to the avocado puree, roasted or poached pears would work too.