The "caramel" for this dairy-free, gluten-free tart is made of soft dates blended with almond butter, coconut oil, and cacao powder. The vegan chocolate ganache topping adds a bit of decadence. The date caramel filling is adapted from Modern Baking by Donna Hay. The crust is adapted from this recipe, on the blog Gimme Some Oven.
Grease a 9-inch tart pan generously with melted coconut oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cacao powder, and salt. Add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and mix with a sturdy spoon or silicone spatula until evenly incorporated.
Press the almond flour crust mixture into the tart pan. (You can use a measuring cup or similar to help press it evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the tin.)
Bake the tart crust for 15 minutes, until it appears dry and firm. Set aside to cool.
After the crust has cooled for a bit, combine the dates, vanilla, cacao powder, melted coconut oil, pinch salt, and almond butter in a large capacity food processor. Blend until smooth.
Transfer the date caramel mixture to the cooled tart crust, gently and evenly pressing it in with a silicone or rubber spatula.
Place the chopped dark chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl.
In the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove, heat the coconut milk until simmering. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate, and leave to steep for about 30 seconds to a minute.
Mix or whisk the chocolate into the coconut milk until smooth, then immediately pour the ganache mixture over the date caramel-filled tart. Use an offset spatula to spread and smooth out the ganache.
Transfer the tart to the refrigerator and allow to chill (for at least an hour or two, and preferably overnight) until the ganache is firm.
Dust the chilled tart with cacao powder or cocoa powder, using a stencil if you want to get fancy.
For the caramel, use the softest, stickiest, gooiest dates you can find. Medjool are probably your best bet among widely available varieties. When I made Donna Hay's caramel-cacao bites, I used fantastically soft and sweet Persian dates from the culinary mecca Kalustyans, in New York City. But Medjools should work fine, as long as they are extremely soft.
To make the caramel, you do need a large food processor (rather than a mini one), and its motor does need to be able to handle some heavy-duty blending. (If you try to mix the filling in a wimpy food processor, you may damage the motor.)
To cut the tart, use a large, sharp knife that has been heated by placing the blade in (or under) hot water, then drying it off.
Try to let the tart come to room temperature before serving--the filling texture will be relatively firm regardless, but allowing it to come to room temperature will keep it from being too chewy.