The inspiration for this tart is ka’ak, the famous Palestinian ring-shaped cookies made of flaky olive oil and nigella seed shortbread filled with a spiced date mixture. In this recipe, the cookie dough forms the tart crust, and is filled with date paste and chocolate ganache. I love pairing chocolate with olive oil; while both are intense, they complement each other, which is why I added olive oil to the ganache as well as the pastry.
¼ cup / 60 ml olive oil + a little more for greasing
6½ tablespoons / 90 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons nigella seeds, toasted and ground
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons water
For the date layer:
3 tablespoons date paste
For the chocolate filling:
10.5 ounces / 300 grams 70% dark chocolate, cut into cubes
2 cups / 500 ml heavy cream
⅓ cup / 80 ml olive oil with intense flavor and bitter notes, such as picholine or coratina
A pinch of coarse salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
Prepare theshortbread crust: Blitz the flour, powdered sugar, olive oil, diced butter, ground nigella seeds and salt in a food processor to a sandy mixture resembling bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water and pulse briefly, just until absorbed into the dough. Use your hands to feel the wetness of the dough by gathering the crumbs together: If the dough is crumbly and won’t hold together when it’s pinched, add 1 more tablespoon of water and pulse briefly. Form the dough to a ball, kneading it as little as possible (overworking the dough will result in tough pastry), shape into a disk, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grease the pan with a little olive oil. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of ¼-in / 5-mm and gently transfer to the tart pan. If the dough tears or there are holes in some places, fix these using any leftover dough. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Prick the base of the tart with a fork all over, cover with parchment paper and evenly fill the paper with dried beans or pie weights, making sure the weights sit right up the sides of the pastry. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper and bake for 4-5 minutes, until golden and fully baked. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Spread an even layer of the date paste over the baked crust. If the paste is sticky or too thick, warm it slightly. Alternatively, loosen it by mixing it with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.
Prepare the chocolate filling and assemble: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (a technique also known as bain-marie). Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water in the pot.
Whisk the melted chocolate with the heavy cream. Drizzle the olive oil slowly while whisking continuously. Add the coarse salt and black pepper, mix well and pour over the date paste. Refrigerate the tart until the chocolate is completely set (at least 2 hours and up to overnight).