Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart with Pears and Pomegranate

hazelnut cheesecake tart with pears and pomegranate | apt 2b baking co
hazelnut cheesecake tart with pears and pomegranate | apt 2b baking co
chazelnut cheesecake tart with pears and pomegranate | apt 2b baking co

I have been in Seattle for the last week or so visiting family, brushing up on my "duck, duck, goose" skills and reconnecting with some friends I haven't seen in ages. Seattle is totally living up to it's reputation and it has been 40º and raining for pretty much my entire visit...but it has been such a good excuse to eat lots of soup, cozy up by the fire and go to sleep early every night.  It also has been a wonderful and restful way to ease into the holiday season which feels busier and more hectic every year.

Last year around this time I was deep into writing my book, and didn't have a ton of free time for holiday baking fun and homemade gifts, but I have big plans this year! I might even need to buy myself a new glue gun, watch out Martha Stewart.

First up in my holiday baking spree is this super delicious cheesecake-inspired tart. Cheesecake can be heavy and cloyingly sweet, but in this tart the combination of creamy mascarpone, toasty hazelnuts and sweet-tart pears and pomegranates are a lovely and balanced combination. 

What's on your holiday baking list this year? I am always looking for new ideas!

Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart with Pears and Pomegranate

makes one 10-inch tart

Creamy mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts and sweet-tart pears and pomegranates are a wonderful combination of textures and flavors in this festive holiday tart. This tart can be made in advance, but the crust will soften in the refrigerator as it sits.



2/3 cup hazelnuts

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 large egg yolk

1-2 tablespoons cold water, as needed


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt


2 pears, ripe but firm

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, grind the hazelnuts and confectioner’s sugar until they resemble flour. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Pulse until the mixture begins to hold together, add a bit more water if necessary. The dough should hold together easily when squeezed. Pour the mixture out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap the ball with the plastic wrap and press into a disc. Chill for 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Fit the dough into lightly buttered 10-inch tart pan and dock the bottom and sides with a fork. Freeze the shell for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line the tart shell with a lightly greased sheet of foil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown on the edges. Remove the foil and let the shell cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 350ºF.

With an electric mixer whip the cream cheese and mascarpone together until light and fluffy. Whip in the sugar followed by the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth.

Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until puffed and set, but still slightly wiggly in the center, 20-25 minutes. Let the tart cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight before serving.

Roast the pears: Preheat oven to 375­ºF. Peel core and slice the pears into 1/4-inch slices. Toss the pears, sugar, and lemon juice together on a baking sheet and roast until soft and slightly caramelized, 25-30 minutes.

Let the pears cool to room temperature then top the chilled tart with the roasted pears and pomegranate seeds.

Lebni Tart with Persimmon and Pomegranate

lebni tart with persimmon and pomegranate

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.

Lebni 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.

To Bake

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.

To Garnish

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!

lebni tart with persimmon and pomegranate