A date with a lime a la mode
Serves 4 generously or 6 moderately, depending on how many dates you are using
Here’s a simple way to highlight the complexly sweet flavors of dates, those desert jewels that do, in fact, have a season. Some of these fruits are soft, others chewy, still others creamy with a hint of spice. The following dessert would provide a satisfying grace note at the end of any holiday table.
You will need the following:
Lime Coconut Short Dough (recipe follows)
Dates available at many local farmers’ markets (Look for California-grown dates from Flying Disc ranch, Dates by Davall and Bautista Family)
Caramel sauce (recipe below)
Storebought premium quality vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, as desired
For the Lime Coconut Short Dough:
5.25 ozs (1 stick plus 1-1/2 t. teaspoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2.6 ozs (approximately 1/3 c.) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk from large egg (approximately .67 ozs)
Freshly grated lime zest from 1 large or 2 small limes
Scant 7 oz (approximately 1-1/2 c.) all-purpose flour
2 ozs (approximately 1-2/3 cups) ground unsweetened coconut (also known as coconut flour)
Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continuing mixing until well incorporated. Add the egg yolk and lime zest and mix to blend. Add the flour and the coconut and mix just until the mixture comes together. Remove from the mixing bowl, placing the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Compress to remove excess air and wrap in plastic to chill until firm. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll to a sheet approximately ¼ to 1/3 inch thick. Roll the dough over the rolling pin and unroll it on to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and chill again for about 15 minutes or until firm. Remove from the refrigerator and using the tines of a fork, dock at 1 inch intervals all over the dough. Bake on a rack placed halfway up from the bottom of the oven, for about 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then break into irregular shards, as desired. Set aside. Raise oven temperature to 400° F. to bake the dates.
For the dates:
Use 2 or 3 fresh moist dates per serving. You may choose from whichever varieties are best—Medjools, Khadrawy, Halawy or Honey dates
Toasted walnut halves as needed (one per date).
Heavy cream, enough for a scant drizzle over the dates in the pan (approximately 1 generous teaspoon per date)
Remove the pits and discard them. Now stuff each of the dates with a toasted walnut half. Compress the dates to seal the nuts inside of them.
Place the dates into a shallow preferably non-stick baking pan and then pour heavy cream over the dates and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until the cream is bubbling, thickened and somewhat browned. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool.
Caramel Lime Sauce
1 c. heavy cream
Lime zest from 1 large or 2 small limes
2 c. granulated sugar
Juice of 1-2 limes, (approximately ¼ c)
Sea salt to taste
In a heavy saucepan, heat heavy cream and grated lime zest until just under the boil. Keep it warm.
Next, caramelize the sugar by placing it into a clean heavy saucepan (No water needed). Over medium heat, cook, without stirring, until the mixture liquefies and starts to turn golden brown (brewed tea color). (The sugar should be completely melted.) If you note unmelted lumps of sugar in the mixture, then continue to cook carefully stirring the mixture as needed with a wooden spoon to move any unmelted sugar into the liquefied sugar. When the sugar is completely melted, reduce the heat under the pot to low, and carefully pour in the warm heavy cream and grated lime zest mixture. The mixture will bubble up violently so stand back. Once the bubbling has settled down, stir again to incorporate the liquid. Add lime juice and then the salt, to taste. Set aside. It is nice to serve this sauce slightly warm over the dessert. You can rewarm it by placing it into a heatproof bowl (stainless steel is preferable) set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally as needed when reheating.
Note: Any leftover sauce will keep well for weeks in the refrigerator in a container with a tight fitting lid.
To serve the dessert:
Place one shard of the dough on each of 4 to 6 serving plates (You will most likely have some baked dough remaining. Store in an airtight container and enjoy within the next few days.). Alternatively you can sandwich the dates, as in the photograph, in between 2 shards of the baked cookie dough. It’s up to you.
Place a couple of dates over the dough. Serve with a scoop of premium quality vanilla ice cream or dollop of softly whipped cream, and then drizzle the Caramel Lime Sauce over all. Grate a very small amount of additional lime zest over the dessert, if desired. Enjoy!