Walnut, Orange and Date Molasses Caramel Tart
This recipe takes time and commitment, as there is no hurrying the pastry, but the result is a tart that is sweet, sticky, crunchy and indulgent and the flavours of the walnuts and date molasses are ideal companions. Make sure the walnuts are not too old as they can taste stale or for an even better result, crack, shell and peel whole ones (warning – very time consuming). We find the easiest way to make this pastry is to use a food processor, but both methods are below.
For the pastry:
125g unsalted butter (cubed and cold)
250g plain flour
75g icing sugar
pinch of table salt
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold milk
24cm fluted tart case
For the filling:
250g walnuts, shelled and skinned,
220g caster sugar
250ml double cream
50g Date Molasses
Good pinch of sea salt
Zest of 1 orange, plus a little extra for finishing with (optional)
500 ml crème fraiche to serve.
For the Pastry:
- Ideally, chill all the ingredients and also the mixing bowl down in the fridge for 30 minutes before making the pastry.
- To make by hand, sieve the chilled flour and icing sugar together into the chilled bowl. Add the salt and butter and rub together with the flour and sugar till you have a mixture that looks like fine breadcrumbs. To make in a food processor, combine the flour and sugar (again all having been chilled) and pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter and keep pulsing in stages till you have something that resembles breadcrumbs. This does not take very long, and it can quickly turn it into something like shortbread dough, so I find it safer to pulse rather than run constantly.
- Mix the egg yolks and the milk in a small bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add half the egg, then incorporate together using a butter knife or spoon. Continue to add the rest of the egg mixture gradually (you might not need all of it). Use one hand to push the dough together. When it has almost come together, tip it onto a very lightly floured work surface and continue to bring together, applying more pressure till it forms a dough, but stopping short of kneading as this can over work the dough.
- Flatten the dough into a rough circular shape then wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. To roll out, remove from the fridge and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Flour your work surface and rolling pin then roll the dough, pushing forwards, then turning the dough a little to the left or right, then pushing forwards again. Repeat till you have a circular shape that is around 5-10mm thick and big enough to cover the base and side of the tin, with a little spare around the edge, around 30cm wide. Use the rolling pin to pick the pastry up by rolling it back across it, then lay over the top of the tin.
- Push the pastry into the flat base and then into the edges and against the flutes of the tin. Leave 1-2cm above the top edge the trim with a knife or scissors as this allows for any shrinkage after cooking. Prick the base the with a fork a few times. Place back in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.
For the Filling
- When ready to cook, heat an oven to 180C fan /200C nonfan and place a baking tray inside to place the tart on. Take the tart shell from the fridge and line with foil, pushing the foil into the corners of the base and leaving enough to cover the edges, then cover with a layer of baking beans/rice/pulses. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and baking beans, turn the oven down to 170 and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown all over. If it starts to puff up, carefully pierce the bubble with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Heat an oven to 170C fan / 180C non-fan. When hot, place the walnuts on a baking tray and roast for 5-8 minutes, or until they are lightly toasted. If they still have the skins on place them in a tea towel, wrap up and rub in a circular motion then gently shake.
- Place sugar in a medium, clean saucepan and add the water. Place on a low to medium heat and cook gently but constantly to form a caramel, avoiding stirring or shaking the pan. If you have a sugar thermometer, its ready when it hits 160C, otherwise keep watching (and smelling) and take it off the heat when it is a light brown colour.
- Add the cream, taking care as the caramel will spit and bubble. Place back on a low heat and allow the caramel to melt into the cream, stirring or whisking frequently. Add the Date Molasses, salt and orange zest and mix again. Add the walnuts and stir.
- Set your oven to 170C fan / 180C non-fan. Cook the caramel and walnut mixture for 15 minutes on a low heat to reduce, stirring frequently but gently to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan, then pour into the tart base. Place on a baking tray then bake for 5 – 8 minutes, so that a slight crust forms on the top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 mins. You can eat it like this, but the caramel might still be quite runny, or you can leave it to cool completely so that it becomes chewier. Cut into slices and serve with crème fraiche and a little extra orange zest on top.