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Author Notes: 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
Makes: 15-20 small bars
grams butter, soft
grams all purpose flour
grams fine rice flour (alternatively use corn flour or tapioca starch)
Seeds of 2 cardamom pods, finely ground
pinch of salt, and more to taste
grams pitted medjool dates
75 plus 50
grams dark chocolate (70 per cent)
grams toasted sesame seeds
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Dates