Next up in my unofficial holiday "Parade of Tarts" is this jeweled beauty. The base, hiding underneath all of that fruit, is made from lebni (sometimes spelled labneh) which a yogurt cheese used often in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It's a lot like sour cream with some oomph, but the great thing is that it's tartness makes the finished filling like a nice, light cheesecake. The topping of sweet persimmon slices and crunchy pomegranate arils scattered on top like jewels makes it perfect for any holiday table.
A note on de-seeding a pomegranate: We eat a lot of pomegranates in my family over the holidays and my dad used to be in charge of de-seeding them. His technique was to cut the pomegranates in half and just bang the hell out them with a wooden spoon until all of the seeds fell out, which works just fine, but also makes the kitchen look like a crime scene. So, now I prefer this underwater method which is just a bit tidier.
Lebni Tart with Persimmon and Pomegranate
Sweet Tart Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold, cubed butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons water
1. In the bowl of a food processor or with a pastry blender, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the yolk and pulse, then slowly stream in the water and pulse until the mixture begins to clump a bit.
2. Lightly butter your tart pan or pans and gently press the crumbly dough into the pan. Make sure to evenly coat the bottom and the sides while being careful to not compact the dough too much. You may have a bit of extra dough, save it just in case you have to repair any cracks later on. Freeze the tart shell(s) for 30min.
3. Preheat your oven to 375º and bake the tart shell on a baking sheet (no need for pie weights) until it is lightly golden, repair any cracks that may have formed with your leftover dough. While the shell is baking, prepare the filling.
adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert
Alice cautions that the order in which the ingredients are mixed really makes a big difference in the smoothness of the finished tart, so follow these directions exactly or I'll tell Alice!
3 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups labneh (kefir cheese)
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs with the sugar, salt and vanilla. Then, whisk in the cheese.
Turn the oven down to 300º
Pour the filling mixture into the warm tart shell and return to the oven to bake until the filling is set, but jiggles slightly in the center, about 15-20 minutes. Take care not to over bake the filling, as it will ruin the smooth texture of the filling.
Cool the tart completely then top with 4 peeled (a y shaped peeler is great for this task) and sliced fuyu persimmons (the short, chubby ones) and the arils from one pomegranate (about a cup's worth). Serve immediately. This tart is exceptionally good without the fruit, so if you can't find persimmons and pomegranates, don't let that stop you!