These Maltese pastries make the most decadent tea-time treat. Buttery pastry is filled with a spiced, citrusy date paste, deep fried and coated in icing sugar- you won’t be stopping at one.
180g pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) fresh orange juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ⁄2 tsp ground aniseed or star anise (see tip)
Pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegetable oil, to deep fry
375g (21 ⁄2 cups) plain flour
125g butter, chopped
2 tbsp icing sugar mixture, plus extra, to dust
1⁄2 tsp baking powder
80ml (1 ⁄3 cup) warm water
3 tsp orange blossom water
5 Method Steps
Step 1Place dates
(180g pitted dates, chopped), rind
(1 tsp finely grated orange rind), juice
(60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) fresh orange juice) and 60ml (1 ⁄4 cup) water
(80ml (1 ⁄3 cup) warm water) in a saucepan. Stir until combined. Set aside for 15 minutes or until dates soften.
Step 2Add cinnamon
(1 tsp ground cinnamon), aniseed
(1 ⁄2 tsp ground aniseed or star anise (see tip)), cloves
(Pinch of ground cloves) and vanilla
(1 tsp vanilla extract). Cook, stirring, over low heat for 20 minutes or until thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Step 3To make pastry, place flour
(375g (21 ⁄2 cups) plain flour), butter
(125g butter, chopped), sugar
(2 tbsp icing sugar mixture, plus extra, to dust), baking powder
(1⁄2 tsp baking powder) and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add warm water and blossom water
(3 tsp orange blossom water). Process until just comes together into a soft, smooth ball. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into disc. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for 1 hour to rest.
Step 4Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 5mm-thick, 24 x 40cm rectangle. Trim edges. Cut lengthways into 3 strips. Spread date mixture down middle of each strip. Brush edge with water. Fold dough over lengthways. Press edges to seal. Flatten gently then cut each log diagonally into 2cm-thick pieces.
Step 5Pour oil
(Vegetable oil, to deep fry) into a large deep saucepan until half full. Place over medium-high heat and heat to 180C on a cook’s thermometer (see tip, opposite). Deep-fry pastries, in batches, turning occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Drain on a tray lined with paper towel. Toss in extra icing sugar. Serve warm.