200 grams flour
4 tablespoons caster sugar pinch of salt
125 grams butter
zest of 1 lemon plus
2 tablespoons juice
15-20 large fresh dates 1 cup Muscat or dry sherry
1⁄2 cup water 1⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cardamom pods, crushed to release seeds
1 cinnamon stick 3 long strips of orange peel
250 grams mascarpone
Pastry: Preheat the oven to 200oC.
Place the flour, sugar, salt, butter and zest in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and pulse again until the dough just starts to come together.
Tip onto the bench and form into a disc. Rest in the fridge for 1⁄2 hour. Divide the pastry between 10 small tins – we used 10cmx5cm rectangular tart tins – (or use 1 x 28cm round tart tin with removable base) and press into an even layer. (If using a large tin cover the base only with pastry). Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Line the pastry with crumpled baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake 10-15 minutes for small tarts, 25 minutes for one large one. Remove the paper and beans, turn the oven down to 180oC and bake for another 5-7 minutes (8-10 minutes for a large tart) or until golden and cooked through. Cool and set aside until ready to assemble tart.
Dates: Preheat the oven to 180oC. Halve and stone the dates and place in a single layer in an ovenproof dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small pot, bring to the boil and pour over the dates. Bake for 6-7 minutes, basting once.
Remove the dates from the syrup and set aside to cool. Place the syrup back in the pot and simmer until reduced by half. Strain and cool.
To Serve: Fill the tarts with mascarpone and place 3 dates on top of each small one or arrange all the dates on the top of a large tart. Drizzle with a little cold syrup. Serve any remaining syrup in a small jug. Serves 10
Mascarpone: a fresh cheese from Italy made from double cream. Locally made mascarpone is readily available in supermarkets.
Wine Match: Matariki Late Harvest Riesling 2002 (Hawkes Bay) The apricot/honeyed characteristic of this late harvest sticky provides a cool silky smooth complement to the infused citrus/ spice flavours of the roasted dates. $25-$35