When I was little, we spent our days wandering. You never know what you'll find on a farm: shiny mica-flecked rocks, squirmy crawfish angrily waving their pincers, a delicate robin's egg broken in two.
In the summer, we wade down into the stream that runs like a silver thread through the green fields of our property. We jump in, bare feet first, down by the clothesline where the stream is placid and the bank slopes gently. We tromp along, squishing our feet into muddy streambed, past the three ponds. Here the stream enters the forest. The air is cold and quiet, shaded by tall trees. There's a hushed feeling everywhere, like we're standing in a church out in the open. Occasionally we hear a bird call. The stream deepens. At some points, it eddies and swirls into rushing whirlpools.
Hours later, full of the authority only secret adventure can bring, we make our way home.
On days like this, my eyelids grow heavy at the dinner table. I resist and resist, until I give in reluctantly to the bewitching pull of bed. After I fall asleep, my mind runs over the pieces of the day, shifting them around like polished ivory tiles into nonsensical mosaics of mud and field, stream and sparrows.
My adventuring takes a different shape these days. Fewer crawfish expeditions, more cookbooks. Less fresh air, more Fairway trips. So I find new discovery in the kitchen instead (it's a reliable place to learn something, surprise yourself, stop and wonder).
A good find in my latest wanderings? This silky, intense chocolate tart made with tofu. The first time I made it for a party, I didn't tell any of my friends that it had tofu as the main ingredient, and not one could guess it. It tastes sophisticated and rich (in the words of one friend: "Michelin-star worthy"), but couldn't be simpler to make.
An important note on the filling: Be sure to use silken tofu! Plain tofu has very different consistency, and I find that the tofu flavor comes through more strongly with plain tofu.
If you can't find silken tofu, don't despair. Use what you can find. You will, however, need to doctor the filling slightly to make it taste more like chocolate and less like tofu. When I can't find silken tofu, I use plain and I add extra maple syrup, vanilla, and salt to the filling. I also like to add a pinch of espresso powder to the filling to amp up the chocolate flavor, and sometimes I'll throw in some melted white chocolate for a little creamy sweetness. The most important thing is to taste the filling. If it doesn't taste good to you, play around with adding more flavors (vanilla extract, melted chocolate, espresso powder) and sweetener (maple syrup) until you're happy with the result.
Chocolate Tofu Tart
Adapted from Food52
For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 graham cracker sheets)
1/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
For the filling
1 package firm silken tofu (12.3 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter, and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" tart pan (you can always use a pie plate).
Place the crust on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Let the crust cool while you make the filling.
In a blender or food processor, blend together the tofu, almond milk, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (if using the microwave, heat it in 30 second intervals and stir between each to avoid scorching).
Pour the melted chocolate into the tofu mixture and blend thoroughly.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Chill the tart for at least 3 hours before serving.