Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chai-Spiced Medjool Date and Almond Tart

Now here is the perfect dessert if you want something simple and not too sweet! (I mean, I had tried an easy spiced applesauce cake, but it was a bit too one-dimensional for my taste; this tart is different.) It’s a bit more cakey than most tarts and is particularly good served warm, though it was great at room temperature as well. You could use chai tea instead of the spice blend if you want (just grind it well beforehand). The original recipe specified that it could be made in 8 individual tart pans of 3 ¼ inches each, rerolling the dough a few times, but I haven’t tried it. We all enjoyed it (including my parents, who were in town at that point).

For the pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
1 egg
1¼ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder

For the date filling
1½ cups chopped Medjool dates (about 15)
½ cup water
1 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger

For the almond filling
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ cup ground almonds
1½ tsp. all-purpose flour

For the pastry
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and continue beating until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder, then add to the butter mixture. Beat just until combined. The dough will be very soft. Wrap in plastic wrap and form into a flat disc. Chill at least 2 hours. The dough can be prepared a day ahead.

For the date filling
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat. While the dates are cooking, mash them with a rubber spatula and continue cooking, about 5 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is very thick and almost smooth. Transfer the date mixture to a small bowl to cool completely. The dates can be cooked 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Roll the dough about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick, and line a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with it. Place on the parchment-lined tray. Chill while preparing the almond filling.

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 °F.

For the almond filling
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and beat to combine.

Combine the ground almonds and flour together and add to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth.

Spread the date mixture evenly over the chilled dough. Repeat with the almond filling, spreading it over the date mixture to cover.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature. (The tart can be baked 1 day ahead and stored, well wrapped, at room temperature.)

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