Not quite a tart and not quite a cake but something in between, this “tart” is perfect on its own or enriched with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. It is particularly good served warm. The recipe includes a spice mixture, but you can instead use 2 tsp (10 mL) of Arvinda’s Masala Chai blend, available at specialty stores. Medjool dates are another key ingredient—so moist and flavourful. This recipe also works in eight 31/4‑inch (8.5-cm) tart rings (re-rolling the dough a few times to fill rings).
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup (80 mL) sugar
1¼ cups (310 mL) cake flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1½ cups (375 mL) chopped Medjool dates, about 15
½ cup (125 mL) water
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cardamom
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
½ tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ tsp (1 mL) almond extract
½ cup (125 mL) ground almonds
1½ tsp (7 mL) all-purpose flour
1 For the pastry, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and continue beating until combined.
2 In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder, then add to the butter mixture. Beat just until combined. The dough will be very soft. Wrap in plastic wrap and form into a flat disc. Chill at least 2 hours. The dough can be prepared a day ahead.
3 For the date filling, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat. While the dates are cooking, mash them with a rubber spatula and continue cooking, about 5 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is very thick, and almost smooth. Transfer the date mixture to a small bowl to cool completely. The dates can be cooked 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
4 Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Roll the dough about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick, and line a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan. Place on the parchment-lined tray. Chill while preparing the almond filling.
5 Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
6 For the almond filling, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and beat to combine.
7 Combine the ground almonds and flour together and add to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth.
8 Spread the date mixture evenly over the chilled dough. Repeat with the almond filling, spreading it over the date mixture to cover.
9 Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature accompanied by whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The tart can be baked 1 day ahead and stored, well wrapped, at room temperature.