Labne Tart

Sorry to make you wait, but now here is the story of my dessert from this past snowy weekend… this dessert not only happily ended those two snowy feasts, it also happily ended a third feast on Saturday night when Annie and Molly and I cooked our own Thai dinner together.

Labne cheese is kind of like sour cream, but thicker and more tart. It’s delicious, and once I noticed that Alice Medrich had a recipe for a simple tart made with it, and then noticed that the Park Slope Food Coop was regularly stocking it, I knew I had to try it. I love love love Alice Medrich’s cookbook Pure Dessert; there is not a thing in there that has failed me when I tried it… until now. I’m sorry Alice, I still love you, but when I tried to make your Labne Tart, it wasn’t all I had hoped for. Last weekend I went to a dinner party at Hillary’s, and brought along version #1 of the tart, for which I followed Alice’s recipe exactly but replaced her crust recipe with a gluten free tart crust. The crust I made was kind of sandy, and the tart filling was kind of bland and undercooked. It wasn’t bad, in fact everyone seemed to like it, but I was just a bit bored. Behold version #1:

On Thursday, with extra time on my hands, extra labne cheese in my fridge that needed to be used, and blood oranges on my mind, I decided to try again. Much better! Behold version #2:

In my second version, the first thing I knew I had to do was fix the crust. The pistachios and the honey helped to make it more moist and less sandy, and were a lovely nutty/ salty companion to the sweet and creamy tart filling. I had some leftover pistachios, which I decided to turn into a garnish, and grind up in the food processor along with the zest of one lemon, a small handful of sugar, and a small handful of salt. (I’m sorry I forgot to measure again.) The garnish was tasty and nicely salty, but it was damp and mushy from all that lemon zest, so I dumped it into my nonstick skillet and let it dry out over very low heat which I turned on and off for about an hour until the garnish was crispy, but not browned. The blood orange sauce was even simpler: 2 parts fresh squeezed blood orange juice to one part sugar. Make as much as you have blood oranges for  (because I honestly wish I had made more).

Labne Lemon Tart with Gluten Free Pistachio Crust
serves 10

for the crust:
1/2 cup pistachios (shelled, raw and unsalted)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs Brown Rice Flour Mix (2 parts brown rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch, and 1/3 parts tapioca flour)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp xanathan gum
5 Tbs cold unsalted butter 
1 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9inch round tart pan.
In a food processor, pulse the pistachios a bit until chopped but not too fine.
Add the flour, sugar, xanathan, butter, honey, vanilla, and salt, and pulse until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan, and press it into the pan with your hands so it’s as thin as possible (don’t worry, the crust won’t be green after it bakes).
Bake until just browning, about 20 minutes (make the filling while it bakes). 
Remove from oven, and brush with egg yolk (lightly beaten with a pinch of salt).
Bake another five minutes until the egg yolk on the crust is shiny.
Remove from oven, and pour in filling.

for the filling:
1/4 cup sgar
zest of one lemon
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs lemon juice
14 oz labne cheese

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and lemon zest, mashing with your fingers or a spoon until the sugar is yellow from the lemon zest.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon-sugar, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice until well combined, then whisk in the labne.
Pour into the pre-baked pie crust.
Turn the oven down to 300.
Bake until the filling is set all around the edges and just barely wiggles in the middle, about 25 mins.
Cool completly before serving.
Serve garnished with pistachio-lemon zest crunch and a drizzle of blood orange syrup.

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