These shortbread bars were inspired by my love for the combination of medjool dates, dark chocolate and sea salt. And what you end up with is a sort of Middle Eastern twist on Millionaire's Shortbread - there is a layer of cardamom shortbread, a thick date and tahini layer and this is all topped with a tahini ganache and toasted sesame seeds. —Sophia R
15-20 small bars
all purpose flour
fine rice flour (alternatively use corn flour or tapioca starch)
Start with the shortbread. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a round tart pan with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (the softer the butter is, the quicker this will be – in any event this should take no more than ca. 5 minutes). In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, the rice flour, the ground cardamom and the pinch of salt. Add to your mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula work the flour into the beaten butter. At first the mixture will seem impossibly dry and as though the dough will never absorb all the flour, but just persevere, sooner or later almost all of the butter will have been absorbed into the dough. To mix the last remaining bits of flour into the dough, I like using a silicone spatula in a cutting motion.
Once all the flour has been absorbed, press the dough into the tart pan until it covers the base of the tart pan and has an even thickness of around 1/2cm. Prick the dough with a fork all over, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to firm up for ca. 15 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until just starting to colour. Set aside to cool (and firm up).
While the shortbread is baking, prepare the ganache. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in the tahini and the sea salt. Set aside.
Place the pitted dates into a bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to just cover the dates. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes (this will help soften the dates). Drain and discard the water and add the dates to the bowl of a food processor, followed by the tahini and the salt. Pulse until the mixture is completely smooth (this should take no more than ca. 1 minute). Taste and maybe add a pinch or more of salt. Set aside.
Once the shortbread base has come to room temperature, spread the date ‘caramel’ in an even layer all over its base. Next, pour the tahini ganache over the date ‘caramel’. Set aside to allow the ganache to firm up a little bit then scatter the toasted sesame seeds and the sea salt over the chocolate ganache (if you do this while the ganache is still very liquid, the sesame seeds and the sea salt will simply sink and disappear into the ganache). Set aside until completely firm before cutting the shortbread into square bars.
Hi, my name is Sophia and I have a passion (ok, maybe it is veering towards an obsession) for food and all things food-related: I read cookbooks for entertainment and sightseeing for me invariably includes walking up and down foreign supermarket aisles. I love to cook and bake but definitely play around more with sweet ingredients.
Current obsessions include all things fennel (I hope there is no cure), substituting butter in recipes with browned butter, baking with olive oil, toasted rice ice cream, seeing whether there is anything that could be ruined by adding a few flakes of sea salt and, most recently, trying to bridge the gap between German, English and Italian Christmas baking – would it be wrong to make a minced meat filled Crostata?