I decided to make a variation on the Better Than Butter Tarts which I baked a while ago using a recipe from the book How It All Vegan which you can read about here. I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian but it doesn’t stop me from using the recipes. Niranjana explained that Butter Tarts are a delicious Canadian speciality and I did enjoy the vegan ones which I baked earlier, you can see them here. But – and it’s a big but, well yes I didn’t mean that in the US way but I would have a big bum if I baked them again because I would have to eat them all on my own. Jack doesn’t like raisins, currants or sultanas, which is a bit of a pain because they’re in so many lovely things. Apparently it’s the texture of them that he doesn’t like. They feel like blisters to him!
Anyway, with that in mind I decided to use dates instead as he loves sticky toffee pudding with dates. I tweaked the Better Than Butter Tarts recipe by adding more sticky toffee ingredients.
I used about four dried dates for each tart and I snipped them into three. For the syrup I used three or four dessertspoons of soft brown sugar, a teaspoon of coffee granules and a spoonful of ground flax seed and a sploosh of hot water. Really nice but it’s the sort of recipe that you can keep tinkering with and next time I think I’ll substitute some golden syrup or even honey instead of some of the sugar.
I baked four large tarts this time instead of lots of wee ones and I experimented with the pastry too. When I was watching Billy Connolly’s Route 66 programme I saw that one of the roadside eateries which he stopped had great looking pies and the chap who made them mentioned that he had made the pastry with oil and not fat. So I decided to have a go and I used:
6 oz plain flour
2 dessertsps of icing sugar
3 fluid oz sunflower oil
small amount of water to mix
It’s super quick to mix together but I wasn’t too hopeful while I was trying to roll it out. It might have been easier if I had added a bit more water but that may have made the pastry tough. I ended up dividing the dough into four pieces and rolling each one out separately until they were just a bit bigger than a tea plate, cut around the tea plate and fitted them into my tart tins.
As usual I was trying to do about five different things at once and that’s why I forgot to bake them blind. I just stuck them in the oven at gas mark 4 for about 15 minutes. It was only when I was taking them out that I realised what I had done but they were absolutely fine. I filled the pastry with the date mixture and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so. They were a great success because the pastry is strong enough to pick the tarts up and they don’t even crumble when you bite into them. However they are crisp or should I say ‘short’ but not hard. You might want to adjust the icing sugar content to your taste, it is quite sweet.
I know that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bake Off fame would say oh they’re burnt. But we love the burnty bits – don’t you?!