Medjool date and vanilla tart

Serves: 8
Course: Dessert
Cooking Time: 0 hr 3 mins
  • Filling:15 Medjool dates, halved lengthways and stones removed6 egg yolks85g caster sugar½ vanilla pod600ml creamTo make the pastry:110g cold butter, diced220g plain flour25g caster sugar1 egga few drops of watera little beaten eggTo servesoftly whipped cream

This is a delectable tart. The combination of date, vanilla and cream is quite delicious, and even avowed date haters have been convinced by it. I like it best served slightly warm, but it is still really good the next day served at room temperature.

For the pastry, rub the butter into the flour either by hand or using a food processor to achieve a fine crumb. If using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the sugar. Beat the egg and add to the flour with a fork, adding a few drops of water if necessary to bring the pastry together. Knead the pastry just enough to achieve a smooth mass. Form into a neat flat disc, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a deep 23cm flan tin with a loose base with it. Try to achieve a slightly raised pastry edge a few millimetres proud of the top of the flan tin. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line the tart shell with parchment or greaseproof paper and fill to the very top with dried beans. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and paint the base of the tart with a little beaten egg to seal it. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the pastry looks golden and just cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before assembling the tart.

Place the halved and stoned dates on the pastry in circles with the cut side uppermost. Cream the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways. With the blunt side of a knife, scrape out the seeds and add to the mixture. Stir in the cream and mix gently but thoroughly. Gently pour the cream over the dates, being careful not to dislodge them. The filling will come right up to cover the dates.

Bake in the oven for about 90 minutes, until just set. If you think the tart is colouring too much, lay a sheet of parchment paper over the tart once the skin on top has set. I like the top of the tart to be well coloured, somewhat like the colour of a roasted hazelnut.

Once the tart is gently but definitely set, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.