Caviar & Bananas pastry chef Sara Parker whips up nutty, black sesame-spiked treats perfect for Halloween parties
Midnight Tarts - (Makes 6 10-cm tarts)
For the crust:
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup black sesame seeds, divided
1 cup dried, pitted dates
2 Tbs. black tahini paste (available at Earth Fare or online via Amazon)
11/2 Tbs. melted extra-virgin coconut oil
1/4 tsp. vanilla paste (may substitute vanilla extract)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
For the filling:
11/4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup black tahini paste
3 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup melted extra-virgin coconut oil
White and black sesame seeds, for topping (available at Earth Fare or Whole Foods)
To make the crust, place the almonds, 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds, and the dates into a food processor and process until the mix is finely ground and starting to form a paste. Add the black tahini paste, melted coconut oil, vanilla paste, and sea salt and blend again until the mixture sticks together between your fingers. Add the remaining sesame seeds and blend on low until combined.
Remove the mixture from the processor and press evenly into six 10-centimeter tart tins lined with clear plastic wrap, making sure that the dough is about five millimeters thick on the base and sides of the tin. Place the tins in the freezer to chill while making the filling.
Blend all of the filling ingredients, except the coconut oil, in a high speed blender (Robot Coupe recommended) until super smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. While continuing to blend, slowly pour in coconut oil, allowing it to emulsify into the mixture.
Remove the tins from the freezer and carefully pry away the crusts in each. Place them on a flat sheet tray, then pour the filling evenly into each. Place the tarts in the freezer for two hours to set before serving, or store, sealed, in the refrigerator overnight. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and serve cold or at room temperature. The tarts will keep for one day at room temperature or one week in the refrigerator and can be stored in the freezer for up to three weeks.
■ Black sesame seed scoop: Slightly more bitter than their white counterpart, black sesame seeds are a “superfood” said to help fight cancer, balance hormones, burn fat, aid in digestive health, and—due to their high calcium and zinc content—nourish bones and skin.
■ Treats for all: These tarts are already vegan and gluten-free, but they can easily be made nut-free. “Simply replace the almonds in the base and the almond flour in the filling with sunflower seeds,” Parker says.
■ Sweet thing: While honey and dates are in the recipe, their sweetness is offset by earthy sesame seeds and nutty tahini. For those with a serious sweet tooth, Parker suggests bumping up the honey to four tablespoons.
■ Don’t get stuck: “If your food processor isn't that strong, you may want to blend the almonds and sesame seeds into a flour first before adding the dates,” Parker suggests. That way, the blades don’t get too bogged down with fruit when grinding the nuts.
Meet the Chef: Sara Parker
Caviar & Bananas pastry chef Sara Parker has fond memories of sharing candy with her siblings at Halloween, although her treat of choice—retro Wax Lips—may surprise those familiar with her refined take on desserts today. “I can still recall their sweet smell, even though I haven’t had them since I was eight or nine,” laughs Parker, who today specializes in desserts both sweet and savory. Before joining Caviar & Bananas in 2015, Parker graduated from the International Culinary Center, where she studied under Dean Jacques Torres, known as “Mr. Chocolate.” Chocolate is a favorite ingredient of Parker’s at the cafe, but the chef also likes to cut the sweetness of her pastries with healthy ingredients like tahini and black sesame seeds. “Black sesame seeds have a richer, nuttier flavor over the white variety,” she notes. “They add a unique taste to desserts and are a great, healthy source of energy.”