These exquisite little mushroom bacon tartlets have been very popular with my guests over the past few months, who have all been amazed when they found out that they were actually vegan and gluten free. The sesame flavour in the tahini pastry perfectly complements the black garlic, and the creamy filling is balanced by the salty mushroom bacon on top. Quite simply, I think they are a taste sensation and the perfect little nibbles for a small gathering or even just for yourself!
For many people, this Christmas will be very different to Christmases past. Normally this week would have been filled with frantic preparations and fun parties. I would be scouring the recipe books for ideas for what to serve to my guests and busy making dishes ready for the big day itself. This year is a more introspective year. We have travelled back to the UK due to a family bereavement. We are grieving and coronavirus seems to be rampant here so we will have a quiet Christmas avoiding others. Not the big fun Christmas in Qatar that we had originally planned but perhaps even more reason to treat ourselves with special food to indulge in.
Mushroom bacon is a relatively new find for me and boy am I glad I found it! Bacon is something that a lot of vegetarians miss. Its rich salty flavour enlivens even the humblest of ingredients. Now you no longer need to miss out! Make a few batches of this mushroom bacon and keep some in the freezer to crisp up in the oven at a moment’s notice and throw on top of pasta, risotto, salads, or wherever a recipe calls for bacon. The similarity to real bacon is uncanny. Even my bacon-loving husband and children, could not get over the fact that this was in fact made from mushroom (and my kids HATE mushrooms!).
If you haven’t used liquid smoke before, don’t worry, it’s actually made from natural ingredients and quite easy to find in the condiments section at the supermarket… even in Qatar! So now this is one easy switch for those wanting to cut down their bacon intake for whatever reason. Knowing that processed meat is so damaging to our health, I am delighted to find something that we can easily switch to that is not only made from vegetables but that doesn’t feel like an inferior substitute in any way!
Gluten-free and Vegan Pastry
The wonderful thing about gluten free pastry is that you don’t need to worry about working it too hard. Gluten free pastry can be pushed and shoved and over-handled because there is no gluten to develop. For this reason, and because usually it is a little bit more crumbly (short) than normal pastry, I tend not to roll it out and, instead, just get little blobs of pastry and push them into the tartlet moulds. With nimble fingers you can quickly push the pastry against the bottom and up the sides and then just cut it off around the top edge.
For the small quantity in this recipe, it should only take about 5-10 minutes to do and it is so worth it because the flavour and texture of the pastry is a world away from the ready made gluten free pastry you can buy in the shops.
I know this recipe looks like it is long and complicated but only because I have given quite detailed instructions to make it as easy as possible. It’s actually very simple to make these and they come together very quickly. The basic steps are as follows:
- Mushroom Bacon - thinly slice the mushrooms, marinade for 15 minutes, then bake in the oven.
- Tahini Pastry - whizz all the pastry ingredients in the food processor, chill, then press into the tartlet tin. Blind bake in the oven.
- Black Garlic Cashew Cream - whizz in a high speed blender for a minute or two.
- Assembly - fill the cooked pastry cases with some cashew cream and top with bits of mushroom bacon and garnish with some smoked paprika or chopped chives.
See it really is quite simple isn't it!
You can make these in advance if you wish.
- Make the pastry cases and once they’ve cooled, store in a sealed container for a day or two (be careful not to store until fully cooled or the condensation will make them go soggy).
- Make the cashew cream and mushroom bacon in advance but store in separate sealed containers in the fridge, again, for up to 5 days.
- When you’re ready to serve, leave the cashew cream out for half an hour to come to room temperature, put the mushroom bacon in a single layer on a baking tray in a hot oven for 10 minutes, to crisp up again (it goes a little soggy in the fridge), and assemble the tartlets up to an hour before your guests arrive.
Batch-make the Mushroom Bacon
You might want to make a double batch of the mushroom bacon to keep some in the freezer for topping salads, risottos, pasta, soups, etc. Just take out of the freezer and warm in the oven for a few minutes when you want to use it.
These little tartlets are divine for entertaining but if you don't want to go to quite so much effort or you want some ideas for what to serve alongside them, how about just doing a big vegan graze board with lots of vegetable crudités, a few dips, some crackers and crisps and olives and nuts? Everyone likes to nibble while they're chatting! Here are some ideas for what to include on it:
- Roast Cauliflower and Chimichurri Sauce
- Super-Speedy Muhummara Dip (6 minutes!)
- Zingy Green Olive Tapenade
Recipe Card 📖
Divine Mushroom Bacon and Black Garlic Cashew Cream Tartlets
- 3 portobello mushrooms sliced thinly
- ½ tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp maple syrup
Black Garlic Cashew Cream
- 60 g cashews
- 60 g fresh filtered water (in addition to the boiled soaking water)
- 1 tsp black garlic paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- 50 g coconut oil softened or vegan butter
- 150 g almond flour
- 80 g coconut flour
- 60 g tapioca flour
- 50 g tahini
- 1 tsp salt
- 90 ml water
- Set the oven to pre-heat to 200°C.
- First, thinly slice the mushrooms and combine the rest of the mushroom bacon ingredients in a bowl. Carefully mix the sliced mushrooms with the marinade in the bowl using your hands or a silicon spoon. Then set aside, mixing occasionally.
- Measure out the cashews into a jug or bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Set aside to soak for at least 15 minutes or until you’re ready to make the cashew cream.
- Meanwhile, put all the pastry ingredients except the water into a food processor and pulse a few times until it looks like fine breadcrumbs then, with the food processor running, pour in the cold water slowly through the spout until the mixture comes together. (You may not need all the water or you may need a little more – it depends on your flours and the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. Just add enough to make the fine breadcrumb texture change to larger clumps that you can easily pull together into a pliable dough). Once it pulls together into a clump, empty the dough onto a piece of clingfilm, wrap it up, push it together into a disc shape and pop it in the freezer to cool and harden up for a few minutes.
- While the pastry is in the freezer, line a baking tray with baking paper and, using a slotted spoon, take the mushrooms out of the marinade and lay in a single layer on the baking tray. Try not to include too much of the marinade as the more liquid you have, the longer they will take to dry out in the oven. Pop them in the oven to cook for about 20-30 minutes at 200°C, turning half way through, until they are dehydrated and a little crispy.
- When the pastry has firmed up so that it is cold but still a little soft, take it out and unwrap. Take small balls of pastry and press down into the holes of the mini-muffin tin, pushing each bit down to line the bottom and sides of each hole. If you haven’t enough to cover the hole completely, just push another little piece of pastry in to patch it up. Then cut around the top of each hole.
- Pop the tin into the oven for 5-10 minutes at 200°C until pale golden brown and the bottom has lost any hint of greyish colour. I find this pastry is better over-cooked than under-cooked, so don’t be afraid to pop it back in the oven for longer than the 10 minutes if it still looks a little grey on the bottom. It’s quite forgiving pastry so can take quite a long time in the oven if need be (I once got distracted and left it in the oven for 20 minutes and it was fine!).
- Once they are ready, take them out of the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then use a teaspoon to carefully ease the cases out of the holes. Set out on a cooling rack to cool.
- When the mushroom bacon is dehydrated and to your desired crispiness, take it out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. (It will get a little crispier on cooling.)
- Meanwhile make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews from the soaking water (throw away the soaking water). Put the soaked cashews into a blender and add the filtered water, black garlic paste and salt. Blend on full power for about a minute until it is very smooth and creamy. (you may need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula in between spurts of blending).
- Once the pastry cases are cool, fill with the cashew cream and top with the mushroom bacon.
- Sprinkle with a little sweet smoked paprika or chopped chives to garnish.
- You might want to make a double batch of the mushroom bacon to keep some in the freezer for topping salads, risottos, pasta, soups, etc.
- These can be made in advance. Just keep each different component separate in a sealed container in the fridge and then assemble up to an hour before you need them.
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes too:
I’d love to know how you get on with this recipe. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and please give it a star rating too! Thank you!