Recently, I bumped into an old friend. We smiled at each other, looked into each other's eye for more than normal and we moved on.
Our friendship had ended abruptly. We both got to a point where we knew we had to go our own ways before things got bitter but despite of it, we dragged along for a long time until one day. One day I didn't take her call. When friendship or for that matter any relationship doesn't create any positive energy, I move away. Without much words, because words always fail me in times of extremity.
Without the bitterness of final goodbyes, good memories linger in your mind like a distant happening. It lives on like a well treasured memory in another times, without any finality to it.
She served her purpose in my life. She taught me to embrace simplicity without fearing the judgement of others. She taught me to enjoy simple foods like fresh figs with a spoonful of labneh, drizzle of honey and sprinkle of fresh zaatar. This tart is inspired from that quick appetizer we used to put together during food less lunch hours.
I was tempted to call this labneh cheesecake as the texture resonates that , but that seemed unfair to the marvelous ingredients in this tart. The crust, made with pistachio and almond meal and dash of fresh cardamom, is my favorite shortcrust recipe lately. The figs are roasted with a generous drizzle of honey with thyme until it's dark and gooey inside.
The filling is nothing but delightfully tart unsweetened labneh with little sea salt. The sweet pastry and honey thyme roasted figs provide a feel good sweetness and the only final touch you should add is the drizzle of honey while serving. Of course, you could go ahead and sweeten the labneh the way you like but I would recommend you try it without it.
Labneh Fig and Thyme Tart with Pistachio Almond Crust
1/2 cup pistachio meal
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cardamom pods*
100 g butter (one stick), very cold, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 egg, whisked with 1 tbsp of ice cold water + 1 egg white for brushing
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup raw cane sugar or confectionery sugar
600g labneh, strained for half an hour**
1/4 tsp sea salt
For the roasted figs
6-7 figs, halved
1/4 cup honey
handful of thyme sprigs
* Grind the seeds to a powder. Retain the skin to add to teas or coffee while brewing.
** If you can't find labneh where you live, it is just strained yogurt. Strain yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth and you are good to go.
For the pastry
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Butter a 9 inch tart pan.
In a food processor, blend the almond meal, pistachio meal, sugar and flour.Add the butter and pulse a few times to get a coarse meal.
Add the egg and water mixture and continue to pulse. In no time the mixture will come together in a ball.
Remove, lightly work it together and wrap in cling film. Flatten and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Once chilled, place the dough between two large sheets of baking paper. The one at the bottom is cut into a circle that fits at the base of a 9 inch tart pan. You want to roll out from inside out such that the inside (the bottom that is) is rolled evenly while the edges are thicker (as once you transfer the pastry to the pan you will work up the edges)
Once rolled transfer the pastry to the buttered pan using a rolling pin.
Pinch the edges evenly upwards. Chill for another half an hour.
Prick the bottom of the pastry and bake for 10 minutes.
Lightly brush whisked egg white all over the pastry (I ended up breaking my yolk into the whites too,urgh) and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Let it cool completely. Try not to eat it! At this point you can wrap up the pastry and freeze it for later use for months.
For the figs
Line the figs in a baking tray.
Drizzle the honey all over the figs and throw in some thyme.
Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes or until the honey darkens.
For the filling
Whisk the labneh with salt,
Fill the tart with the labneh and tuck in the roasted figs in it.
Bake the tart for 15 minutes at 180 C until the labneh sets.
You can serve the tart at room temperature but I prefer it chilled for couple of hours.
When serving, garnish the tart with fresh thyme and drizzle with honey as required.