If you’re going to use a bit of bling in your cooking, Christmas is the time to do it. Last year I experimented with silver sugared balls, cherries and white chocolate. This year, I got my hands on gold edible glitter, which is so fun it runs the risk of adorning all dishes coming out of my kitchen this festive season! Before I get too excited and serve up a gilded ham, I started with a tart.
If your Christmas table is anything like my family’s, there will be no shortage of sweet treats. Chocolate wrapped in seasonal, brightly-coloured foil decorates the table and seems to creep in as an acceptable palate cleanser between courses (no matter how full you are). The dessert table is presented with a flaming plum pudding accompanied by brandy cream, a pavlova straining to hold up a rainbow of fruit, buttery shortbread and more chocolate. I love it. But I thought there might be room this year for something less sweet, and certainly less effort.
A no-bake dessert makes a lot of sense for a southern hemisphere Christmas. The sooner you can turn the oven off, the more comfortable your guests will be on a stinking hot day. This tart uses medjool dates and nuts for the base, which requires no oven time to set. Yoghurt is strained and turned into labneh (more about labneh here), which results in a consistency similar to cream cheese, making it perfect for a cheesecake-like filling. Stirring honey and vanilla essence into the labneh adds a mild sweetness to the tang of the yoghurt, a lovely combination.
For the topping I stuck with a festive theme, using crushed pistachios and pomegranate seeds to form a wreath-like effect. The gold glitter added some sparkle to the rim of the chocolately base as well as contrasting with the smooth, cream-coloured filling.
The result is a pretty, delightfully Christmassy tart that can provide some balance to an overly-sweet dessert table.
Stuck for gift ideas? Check out the Simple Provisions Christmas Gift Guide.
No Sugar, No Bake, Labneh Tart
• 15 medjool dates
• 100g (3.5 oz) nuts (I used 50% almonds, 50% macadamias)
• 100g (3.5 oz) shredded, unsweetened coconut
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 3 tablespoons cocoa
• 3 cups greek yoghurt
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Turn yoghurt into labneh by following these instructions. I drained the yoghurt for 3 hours, which was fine. But the longer you drain it, the more the tart will hold its shape when you cut it. While the yoghurt is draining, prepare the base.
Mix all the base ingredients in a food processor until it forms a ball (add some more water if it’s not coming together).
Line a 9 inch/23 cm loose-based cake tin with baking paper and press mixture evenly over the base, pushing some of the mixture a few centimetres up the side of the tin. Make sure you have a relatively uniform and strong base, don’t let it get too thin. Place in the fridge to set.
When the labneh is ready, melt the honey in a small saucepan with the vanilla extract until runny. Stir the honey mixture into the labneh. Scoop the sweetened labneh into the chilled base and smooth it out evenly.
Top with your choice of berries, dried fruit and nuts. I used crushed pistachios and pomegranate seeds, as well as some gold edible glitter.
Store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve (don’t leave it overnight, as the base could go soggy). Remove the sides of the cake tin and use a wide spatula to remove the tart from the base (careful, this bit can be fragile if your base is on the thin side).