For 2 tarts or, a large catering size or 24 individual tarts you need
(you can halve the recipe, if you prefer, but I always make this size as it freezes well and if you have the oven on, maximise it!)
250ml boiling water
250g pitted dates
5ml bicarbonate of soda
250ml butter, at room temperature
250ml soft brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
20 ml grated orange zest
2 cups cake flour
5ml baking powder
5ml ground cinnamon
5ml ground ginger
100g pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
Oven preheated to 180°C
2 x 22cm pie plates or one pie plate and 12 muffin pan (deep) or individual pudding dishes or ramekins, sprayed with non-stick spray or greased with butter. If using a muffin pan or pudding dishes that will require the puddings to turn out I recommend that you place a circle of baking paper in the base of each to prevent sticking.
This mixture also makes a large 20 X 35cm rectangle, which is ideal for parties.
For the syrup you need
200ml soft brown sugar
150ml orange juice
10cm strip orange zest or a few fine strands of zest
5ml vanilla extract
Cream or ice cream
Cut the dates into approximately 10mm pieces and pour the boiling water over the dates.
When the mixture reaches room temperature stir in the bicarb.
Cream the butter and the sugar until the mix is light and fluffy, add the eggs and the grated zest continue beating.
Sift the dry ingredients together and fold it into the egg mixture alternating with the bicarb and date mixture.
Pour into tart dishes or using a large spring loaded ice cream scoop fill muffin pans to 70%.
Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes if using a muffin pan, or 30-40 minutes if using a pie plate.
Test centre to ensure that a skewer or cocktail stick comes out dry.
While the tart is baking prepare the syrup
Heat the butter, sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and it boils. Turn off the heat and add the remaining ingredients, allowing the flavours to infuse while the tart is baking.
If using individual muffin pans that will be turned out, loosen them with a spatula & return them to the pan.
You can remove the orange zest from the syrup, but I like to see the zest strands, so I keep them.
While the tart is warm, pierce the surface with a skewer and pour the syrup over the surface.
Allow it to stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve at room temperature or warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
For special occasions serve caramelised orange slices.