Dates are also the perfect baking fruit- they freeze well, they don’t make your baking products soggy and they add just the right about of sweetness to a dessert. Below is a delicously simple tart recipe adapted from one of my favorite and most-used cookbooks, Mediterranean: A Taste of the Sun in Over 150 Recipes by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.
The original recipe calls for a few things I didn’t have or didn’t have time to make, such as the homemade pastry dough. Instead, I buy a good quality one with very few ingredients, all of them natural and healthy and then freeze the crust for times like these.
Ground almonds are the base of the batter in the original recipe, but I had walnuts, so that’s what I used instead. Mixed with braw cane sugar, utter, one egg and white whole wheat flour, this becomes the base for the tart.
I like to use Medjool dates for this recipe, but I ran out so I used what I had on hand: these Haramien Dates, or dates from Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Just like any other dates that are sold with the pits inside (as most are), you’ll have to be somewhat careful when removing the pits because it’s prime time to smash up the texture. Remove the stem, too, so that you or anyone else enjoying the lovely tart will not be biting onto that.
The dates are cut in half lengthwise and placed face down all around the top of the batter before baking.
After baking for just 30 minutes, the tart is set and ready to cool before brushing on a quick and easy jam glaze.
I like to get the organic preserves without a lot of sugar- we have enough sugar in the rest of this dessert, and even then, it’s not as much as most sweets.
Most preserves tend to be chunky, so you’ll need to strain it after warming. Do this with a sieve and a spoon by pouring the jam into the sieve and swiftly stirring then pushing it through. This particular brand wasn’t very chunky so it didn’t really even need too much straining.
Overall, this is a fairly easy dessert even for a weekenight during Ramadan, especially for those unexpected guests who pop over at the last moment, invited by your husband or kids, of course…
I like to think it’s made even easier because it’s so improvisable and most people have an abundance of dates around the house this time of year. Tell me what you think in the comment section below.
Date & Walnut Tart
The original recipe calls for a homemade pastry dough. I have improvised, however, by suggesting a pre-made pie crust in order to save time. I’ve also made this with walnuts instead of almonds and rose water instead of orange blossom water.
1 frozen pie crust, defrosted in the refrigerator and kept chilled until just before use
½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoon raw cane sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup ground walnuts
2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons rose water
8-10 fresh dates, stoned and cut in half long ways
1/2 cup apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place a baking sheet in the oven.
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light, then beat in the egg.
Use a food processor to grind up the walnut until they are fluffy and round, about 15-20 seconds, careful not to grind them into a paste.
Stir in the ground almonds, flour and 1 tablespoon of the rose water into the butter-egg mixture. Mix well.
If using a ready-made pie crust, roll it out flat to remove all of the bubbles.
Place the pie crust onto an ungreased glass baking dish. Spread the walnut-egg evenly over the base of the pie crust.
Arrange the dates, cut side down, on the almond mixture.
Place the pie dish on the hot baking sheet that has been warming in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350º F. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the tart surface is golden and firm.
Remove the tart from oven and let cool.
Gently heat the apricot jam over low heat. If the jam is quite chunky, press it through a sieve to get a fine, clean result. Add the remainining rose water to the jam and stir well.
Use a pasty brush to paint the tart and its edges with the jam. Serve at room temperature or when completely cooled. If it’s cut when the tart is still too warm, the inside may crumble.
For more tips on how to incorporate dates- a healthy, all-natural food- into your diet, read this article.