Love is in the air… Or I should say love is extravagantly displayed in the form of rich chocolates, red roses, and Hallmark cards that adorn the store aisles. That means Valentine’s Day is right around the corner!
Since I’m still entrenched in my autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, this will be my very first Valentine’s Day without chocolate. While that could be cause for weeping, I knew I needed a dessert that would satisfy my sweet tooth without totally killing my diet and also be something beautiful and impressive for a special occasion. Something that would make me forget about chocolate for at least a day. 😉
Thankfully, this Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart delivers on all levels! My grain-free tart is loaded with fresh strawberries, both on top and in a luscious strawberry filling. It’s topped with a dairy-free coconut milk and coconut butter cream and nestled in a sweet, crisp, coconut cookie crust. Rather than relying on store-bought chocolates, try your hand at something homemade, like this luxurious, yet healthy Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart! You can even make some individual “sweetheart tarts” like I did!
Before I dive into this dessert, let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. It can be a polarizing holiday, and I totally understand why. For some, it means romantic gestures, love notes, a candlelight dinner, an overnight getaway with your sweetheart. Valentine’s Day can be a very special time when you have a date to share it with.
For others, it’s a painful reminder of a love lost or a longing unfulfilled. When I was in college, I heard it referred to as “Singles Awareness Day.” Some of the girls wore black because they were “mourning” a break up or just frustrated at the couples on campus who strolled blissfully, hand-in-hand.
It’s clear that our culture has built up the holiday as a time for romance. But really, should that be the sole focus?
Growing up as a Christian, the topic of love was brought up often. Especially Christ’s great love for us. Jesus spoke about love many times in the Bible, since his entire mission was about love. A selfless, caring, unconditional love. In John 15:12-13, Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And he’s not just referring to a date, a spouse, or a romantic love interest. He’s talking about loving everyone – family, friends, neighbors, even strangers.
For most of my life, I didn’t have a Valentine. I didn’t meet Mark until I was 25. That meant 25 Valentine’s Days of singleness. But, even though I didn’t have romance in my life, I still had a lot of people to love. And while it was easy to feel a bit envious of those WITH a special someone, something that took my mind off of what I didn’t have was the simple act of loving those I DID have. One way that I really enjoyed showing love to others on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year was by making food for them. (That may not come as a surprise!)
While meeting and marrying Mark has definitely made my Valentine’s Day more romantic, it doesn’t change the fact that the holiday can still be an opportunity to express my love and thankfulness for ALL of the special people in my life.
So, instead of centering Valentine’s Day on the romantic love we do or don’t have, let’s find new ways to express love to the many people in our lives. That way, we’ll always have something to celebrate!
And what better way to creatively show love and appreciation to others than by sharing a delicious Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart or two?! Am I right? 🙂
While this tart may look fancy and complicated, it really is quite easy to make! You’ll just need some fresh strawberries and a variety of coconut products to do the job! Coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter, and shredded coconut! (I sourced all of these products through Trader Joe’s, but most grocery stores carry them!)
You’ll want to get your crust baking first, so just combine all of the crust ingredients into a food processor to pulse until a crumbly dough forms. This cookie crust is very forgiving and would actually be great as a pie shell! Just press the dough out into a greased 10-inch tart pan. (Or some heart-shaped molds for Valentine’s Day!) Feel free to use a tart pan with a removable edge, but you probably won’t need to. The crust holds together so well that it should come out of the pan intact!
The coconut cookie crust bakes for about 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees. After it cools off, run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen and flip out of the pan. I find it easier to cut if it’s out of the pan, but do what you’re comfortable with!
While the crust is baking, you’ll have time to start cooking your strawberry filling. It’s a simple blend of fresh strawberries, maple syrup, lemon juice, and coconut oil. This mixture will cook over medium/low heat for about 10 minutes until it’s thickened slightly.
Once the strawberry filling has cooled off a bit, pour it into your baked tart shell. I just absolutely LOVE the color of this filling! So shiny and red! I made a slightly larger batch to fill my round tart, along with my mini “sweetheart tarts”! After filling your Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart shell(s), pop them in the freezer to cool off and set while you make the final component.
For the coconut cream topping, you’ll want to whisk the cream from the top of the full-fat cans of coconut milk in a stand mixer. (Make sure you don’t get too much of the coconut water in the mixer or it will be very runny.) Whip up the coconut cream until it’s fluffy, then slowly add in the maple syrup, while whisking. Heat up a jar of coconut butter and slowly add each tablespoon, mixing in between each addition. The coconut butter is optional, but it does help the cream set more firmly.
The texture might seem closer to a cannoli filling than a light whipped cream, but no worries! It’s just due to the coconut butter solidifying as it hits the cold coconut milk. Spread the coconut cream on top of the strawberry compote and place the tarts back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until topping sets a bit.
For a show-stopping topping, slice up some extra fresh strawberries and pile them onto the tart, leaving a bit of cream to show around the edges. Garnish with a bit of fresh mint and you have a stunning Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart! It has a decadent and creamy feel to it, but it’s also light and refreshing at the same time!
While this dessert is absolutely perfect for Valentine’s Day, it would be wonderful for any special occasion this year! Try it for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, or during peak strawberry season! This tart recipe is extremely versatile and could be used with just about any fruit! I look forward to making it again with blueberries, blackberries, and even peaches or nectarines!
Go spread some love by baking my Paleo Strawberries and Cream Tart and sharing thick slices (or hearts!) with all of the special people in your life! I guarantee you that it will be thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated! Happy Valentine’s Day!
- ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 lb. fresh strawberries, chopped
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch (optional thickener)
- 2 cans refrigerated full-fat coconut milk (cream only)
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons melted coconut butter (optional, but recommended)
- ½ lb. fresh strawberries, sliced
- a few sprigs of fresh mint leaves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch tart pan, or desired pan(s) of choice.
- In a food processor, combine crust ingredients and pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough into greased pan and bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool and remove from pan, if desired.
- While crust bakes, cook strawberry filling ingredients, except for arrowroot powder, in a saucepan on medium heat. Once filling starts bubbling, reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. For a thicker filling, whisk in a teaspoon of arrowroot starch. Allow filling to cool, then pour into tart shell and place in the freezer for 10 minutes while you make the coconut filling.
- Whip up the cream from two cans of full-fat coconut milk in an electric mixer. Once cream is fluffy, add in maple syrup and continue to whisk. Finally, add in melted coconut butter, whisking after each addition. (Filling might thicken or become slightly textured due to the coconut butter solidifying. Totally fine!)
- Spread coconut cream mixture onto the strawberry filling and place in freezer again to set for 10 minutes.
- If serving the same day, top with the fresh strawberries and mint. Otherwise, store tart in refrigerator without the topping and garnish before serving. Tart will keep for about a week in the fridge and longer in the freezer.
~If you can't find coconut butter, you can leave it out, but I like the flavor and texture it creates.
~For the photographed recipe, I made a recipe and a half to fill some extra small heart-shaped pans.
~Try this tart with blueberries, raspberries, peaches, or other favorite fruits!