12 Dec 2012

Serves 10
PREP 20mins  plus freezing
COOK 50mins 


11/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
grated rind of 1 orange, plus juice of 3 oranges
300g small dates
1/3 cup (35g) walnuts sweet pastry
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp pure icing sugar, sifted
240g plain flour
1 egg, plus 1 extra, lightly beaten

vanilla custard
5 egg yolks
400ml thickened cream
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped 

 Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease a 23cm loose-based tart pan.

To make sweet pastry, use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to beat butter and icing sugar until creamy. Add flour and a pinch of salt, and beat for 30 secs. Add 1 egg and beat for 2 mins, until dough comes together into a ball. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick. Fold pastry over rolling pin and unfold over pan. Using fingertips, gently press pastry into sides of pan without stretching (C). Remove any excess pastry by pressing over edge of pan with your thumb. Prick base of pastry with a fork. Place in freezer for 30 mins.

Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights, rice or dried beans. Blind bake for 15 mins, until pastry starts to colour. Remove paper and weights. Bake for 10-15 mins, until pastry is golden and firm. Reduce oven to 150C or 130C fan.

 To make vanilla custard, whisk together egg yolks, cream, sugar and vanilla seeds in a large jug until just combined. Brush pastry shell with beaten egg. Pour in custard and bake for 25 mins, until almost set. When you tap side of pan it should wobble only once. Cool completely. Chill for 1 hr.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup of caster sugar, 1 cup water, and orange rind and juice in a medium saucepan on high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 mins, until reduced by half. Reduce heat to low, add dates and cook for 3-5 mins, until puffed. Remove from heat.

Dust tart with remaining caster sugar and cover pastry with foil. Using a blowtorch, melt sugar until dark golden and caramelised.

7 Drizzle custard tart with orange syrup and top with poached dates and walnuts. Cut into wedges and serve.


Tip- Use a meat thermometer to check when the lamb is done to your liking. Test the thickest part of the meat. As a guide, it’ll read 60C for rare, 65C for medium-rare, 70C for medium and 75C for well done.



 Gary's secrets

• I’ve used dates cooked in orange syrup to make this dessert even more irresistible, but it would be equally good served with a dollop of cream.

• Don’t be afraid to blind bake the pastry case until it is golden brown. It might look dark, but once the custard goes in and the oven temperature is reduced, it won’t go much darker.

• To make individual custard tarts, use 10 x 8.5cm loose-based tart pans and cut the cooking time by half.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 04:14
Gary Mehigan

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