Of all the things on my to-do list today — lesson planning, gift wrapping, client shopping — this ranked last.
Yet here I am, at the end of the day, staring at 6 dozen red velvet crinkle cookies, 2 dozen cherry-white chocolate biscotti and these:
Eve’s tiny date tarts.
Eve is my hairdresser. I tasted her tarts last December, when she laid them out to show clients how much she appreciates them.
I thought I was eating chocolate. Eve’s sister-in-law set me straight.
“It’s not chocolate; it’s dates,” she said. “We make them every year.”
Eve came to the DC area years ago. Born in Cyprus, she spent most of her growing-up years in London. She and her family are now firmly ensconced in the U.S. and an integral part of our large Greek community.
I discovered her shop shortly after moving here in 2002. Smitten with a fellow yoga student’s haircut, I got Eve’s name and dropped by her salon.
It was instant love.
“That’s an awful haircut,” she told me.
“What do you think of the color?” I asked.
It may sound harsh, but that’s the sort of honesty I want in my hairdresser. She hasn’t steered me wrong since.
Plus, now she feeds me tarts. When I told her how much I loved them, she scribbled the ingredients on an invoice slip, saying: “You’ll know what to do.”
I probably could have used some more direction. I remember Eve’s tarts as crumbly and delicate. Mine are a bit more substantial (the big girl at today’s cookie fest). But they have allure.
“What are in these?” my youngest asked before dinner, throwing a couple in his mouth. “Chocolate?”
No. There’s chocolate in the red velvet crinkles, which came from Southern Living. Chocolate in the biscotti, which hail from Martha Stewart.
These tarts have dates. And they’re from Eve.
Eve’s Date Tarts
In retrospect, I think Eve told me to mix these tartlets by hand. I used a food processor, which drastically cut down on time but increased the density of both dough and filling. No worries, though. They emerged crisp and and chewy after their stint in the oven.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 stick unsalted butter (chilled is fine)
- 3 ounces cream cheese (chilled is fine)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Coat a mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Place the first three ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture comes together in a ball.
Roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls. Press the balls into the muffin tins, making sure they extend up the sides.
Place the egg, dates, brown sugar, nuts and salt in a clean processor bowl. Process until everything is well-incorporated.
Carefully spoon 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of the date mixture into your mini-tart crusts. (You’ll have leftover filling. Save it for another use.)
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Cover your pan loosely with foil and bake another 20 minutes, checking periodically to make sure your crusts aren’t burning. You want the filling to be well set and the crusts to be golden.
Remove the pan from the oven. Let the tarts cool for 10 minutes, then carefully move them onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.