I gave my favorite Yogurt Tart a not-quite-sugarless make over that is so successful—and so pretty—I may never go back to the old version. I cut all of the sugar from the filling and reduced the sugar in the crust to just 2 tablespoons. The tangy yogurt custard is garnished with an array of naturally sweet flavor ingredients like dates, nuts, and honey. Every bite is a little symphony—sweet, tangy, rich, smooth, crunchy, nutty, fruity, and fragrant. You can fool around with the topping—try adding tiny wedges of ripe fig or slivers of Fuyu persimmon, or slices of kumquat. Switch up the nuts, used different types of honey or swap in some date syrup
(20 grams) pistachios, coarsely chopped, or more to taste
(7 grams) toasted pine nuts (or more pistachios or toasted slivered almonds or chopped walnuts)
dates, pitted and slivered or sliced attractively
cinnamon stick (optional) for grating
pomegranate arils (optional)
honey, to taste
In This Recipe
To make the crust, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, combine the butter with the sugar, vanilla, salt, and cardamom. Use a micro plane zester to grate the zest of half of the orange directly into the bowl. Add the flour and mix just until well blended. If the dough seems too soft and gooey to handle, let it stand for a few minutes to firm up.
Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, to make a thin, even layer. This takes a little patience, as there is just enough dough; to avoid an extra-thick bottom edge, press the dough squarely into the corners of the pan and evenly up the sides. Square off the top edge of the dough rather than leaving it tapered. Place the pan on a cookie sheet. (If you are not ready to bake, cover the pan and refrigerate the dough up to three days.)
Bake until the crust looks golden brown and fully baked, 20 to 25 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes or so to see if the dough has puffed up from the bottom of the pan. If it has, lift and gently slam the cookie sheet down to settle the dough, or press the dough down with the back of a fork and prick it a few times.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the yogurt. (The order in which the ingredients are mixed makes a difference in the smoothness of the filling, so it’s yogurt into eggs rather than eggs into yogurt!)
When the crust is ready, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 300°F. Brush the bottom of the crust with just enough of the beaten egg yolk to make a thin (moisture-proofing) coating. Return the crust to the oven for 1 minute to set the yolk.
Remove the crust from the oven again. Scrape the filling into the hot crust and spread it evenly. Return the tart to the oven and bake until the filling is set around the edges but, when the pan is nudged, quivers like soft Jell-O in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Check often in the last few minutes, as over-baking will destroy the silky-smooth texture of the filling.
Cool the tart completely, in the pan, on a rack. Refrigerate if not serving within 3 hours.
To finish the tart: Scatter the nuts and date slivers or slices over the tart in an attractive random way. You can grate a little of the cinnamon stick over the top and/or use a 5 hole grater to top it with strands of the remaining orange zest. Add pomegranate arils if you like.
Serve slices drizzled with a little honey to pull all of the flavors together and offset the tangy yogurt filling.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).