What’s cooking today: Walnut and date tart

Tony Jackman’s walnut and date tart, on a matte black ‘paper’ ceramic plate and side plate by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

I set about adapting my old pecan pie recipe for walnuts and dates, which are a good match for these nuts that aren’t nuts and which we aren’t all nuts about. It’s sweetened with molasses, maple syrup and demerara sugar, with a kick from vanilla rum liqueur.

Walnuts come into season earlier than pecans, so the ones I bought recently were from the tail-end of the season while we’re still waiting for their arguably more desirable cousins. Walnuts and dates pair perfectly, and this tart was a winner with my friends. (Read Tony Jackman’s matching column about walnuts here.)


(Makes 2 tarts. They keep for a week or more in the fridge.)

1 packet of frozen puff pastry

1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup

1 cup (250 ml) molasses

1 cup / 250 g Demerara sugar

125 g butter

3 Tbs vanilla rum liqueur (or other of liqueur of your choice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves

4 large eggs, beaten

½ tsp salt

2 cups walnuts

300 g pitted dates, chopped

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Whole walnuts for decorating

⅓ cup maple syrup and ¼ cup vanilla rum liqueur for glazing


In a saucepan, bring the molasses, maple syrup, Demerara sugar, butter and 3 Tbsp vanilla liqueur to a simmer, but keep an eye on it as it froths up and boils over in a flash. Simmer on a very low heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. Stir the ground spices in. Remove and leave to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

An hour before making the tart, put the chopped dates in a bowl and sprinkle 1 scant tsp of bicarb over. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over to cover and leave to cool.

Grease two pie dishes. Roll out the pastry. Place a pie dish top side down on the pastry and cut a circle 3 cm wider than the dish. Place in a dish and prick all over the bottom with a fork. Gather the rest of the pastry up, roll into a ball and roll out again, to repeat, pricking the second base with a fork too. Crimp the pastry all around the edges with finger and thumb. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

When the filling has cooled, whisk the eggs and fold them thoroughly into the syrup with the salt, followed by the (drained) dates and walnuts. Spoon into the pie bases. Bake for 40 to 45 minus until the pastry at the edges attains a golden hue, not too dark. Remove to a wire rack and leave to cool to room temperature before serving. They will be wobbly when hot, but will set when cooled, and can then be refrigerated. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream laced with vanilla rum liqueur. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

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  • Artichoke hearts soaked in a little lenon juice, added to olive oil and roughly cut walnuts just before serving as a sauce for pasta. Delish. Garlic optional.

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