Overview

If you want a dessert that looks complicated but comes together fairly easily and will have your family and friends raving, this is it. Buttery, chocolate crust is punctuated by sesame seeds and gets filled with salted caramel mixed with tahini. Don’t skip on the labneh whipped cream — it provides a tangy, fresh counterpoint to the rich caramel and crust. There’s no better way to end a festive meal.


Ingredients

For the chocolate shortbread crust

8 tablespoons (113 grams/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup (65 grams) confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup (94 grams) flour

1/3 cup (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for serving

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more for serving

For the tahini salted caramel

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water

3/4 cup (180 milliliters) heavy cream

1/2 cup (82 grams) lightly packed light brown sugar

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

3 tablespoons silan (date syrup) or light honey

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup (60 milliliters) tahini

For the labneh whipped cream

2/3 cup (180 milliliters) heavy cream

1/2 cup (120 milliliters) labneh or Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


Steps

Step 1

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees; position the rack in the middle.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat the two together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and sesame seeds and beat until just incorporated, about 40 seconds. If the dough seems crumbly, press it with a silicone spatula while still in the bowl until it becomes a cohesive, somewhat sticky dough. Gather the dough and press it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using a fork, prick the dough all over, and place a piece of aluminum foil over. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Step 2

Remove from the freezer and top with baking weights (or a pile of pennies); bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust is flaky but still soft. Transfer to a wire rack, remove the weights and the foil, and let cool completely.

Step 3

Make the caramel: While the crust is cooling, place the granulated sugar in a clean medium saucepan with tall sides and sprinkle with the water. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a boil, then increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the sugar turns syrupy and the color of light caramel, and smells like burnt sugar, about 7 minutes. (Be careful: The caramel can easily burn, so take it off the heat a few seconds early if you’re in doubt, and swirl gently — do not stir — if one area begins to darken more than others.) Remove the caramel from the heat, then immediately add the cream, brown sugar, butter and silan (or honey) and stir until the butter is melted. The mixture will sputter, then may harden in parts, but don’t worry.

Step 4

Place the saucepan back on the stove over low heat and bring the caramel to a low simmer until the caramel is a deep mahogany color, 11 to 12 minutes.

Remove from the heat, whisk in the salt and then the tahini until smooth, and pour into the baked tart crust. Cool slightly, then chill until the tart is set, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Step 5

Make the whipped cream: Just before serving, in a large bowl, using either a handheld mixer or a whisk, whip the cream until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes if using the mixer. Add the labneh and confectioners’ sugar and whip until soft peaks return, about 1 minute if using the mixer.

Step 6

Remove the tart from the refrigerator and top with the whipped cream, and more cocoa powder and sesame seeds, before serving.

Adapted from “Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen” by Adeena Sussman (Avery, 2019).

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Nutrition

Calories: 500; Total Fat: 34 g; Saturated Fat: 22 g; Cholesterol: 90 mg; Sodium: 260 mg; Carbohydrates: 44 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 25 g; Protein: 5 g.