Sunday, January 27, 2013

Labneh Tart with Vanilla Cookie Crust

Several weeks ago I went shopping in a local Lebanese grocery.  While there I picked up a container of labne (or labneh) which is a thick yogurt "cheese" somewhere between a cream cheese and greek yogurt.  I had heard my cousin, who lived in Lebanon for a year, talk about eating it for breakfast with jams and other accompaniments.  I purchased it to enjoy with pita, and drizzled with a little olive oil and spices, it served as a delicious spread. 

I had quite a bit of it left and wanted to find a way to use it before the expiration date, so I searched online for various recipes.  An interesting one that popped up several times was a labneh tart.  It looked tasty enough and used just the amount of labneh I had on hand.  The crust in the recipes I found were similar to piecrusts, but I had an unopened container of Trader Joe's Ultimate Vanilla Wafers (purchased for a banana pudding which I never made) in the pantry which needed to be used.  

The resulting tart is similar to a cheesecake but with a lemon-like tang.  If you didn't know exactly what you were eating, you would swear it was some form of lemon pie.  The crust is crushed vanilla wafers held together with butter and confectioners' sugar.  The sweet vanilla flavor of the crust goes perfectly with the tangy filling, and the crumbly texture of the crust is a great counterpoint to the ultra-smooth labneh. 

Several notes about this tart...
  • Make sure you use quality vanilla wafers (they make all the difference).
  • I used a 9 inch springform pan rather than a tart pan because my tart pan was too large.  If your tart pan is around 9 inches, by all means use it instead. 
  • Make sure you whisk the filling until there are no lumps.  You want it super smooth. 
  • The baking time may vary from tart to tart and oven to oven.  Mine took longer than the recipes I looked at online.  Just know that you want it to be only slightly jiggly in the middle, like a cheesecake.  
This the brand of labne (labneh) I purchased. 
Photo credit
Labneh Tart with Vanilla Cookie Crust- serves 8
The filling for this recipe is adapted from Darjeeling Dreams and Tanglewood Baked Goods although the original seems to have come from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert.  The crust is from King Arthur Flour.  Others who have made this filling experienced that it took anywhere from 12 to 19 minutes to cook.  Mine took approximately 25 minutes. Just keep your eye on it so it doesn't overcook. 
2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (approx. 71 wafers crushed)

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted

3 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups labneh

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the crushed vanilla wafers, confectioners' sugar, and butter in a bowl until the crumbs are moistened.  Pat the crumbs into and half-way up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan or tart pan (if using a tart pan, press the crumbs all the way up the sides).  Place the crust into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cookies begin to toast.  Remove the crust from the oven and cool completely.

Lower the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.  While the crust cools, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, sea salt, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the labneh to the mixture and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth with no remaining lumps. 

Pour the filling into the cooled crust.  Bake the tart at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes until the middle of the tart is almost set and jiggles only slightly in the center.  Be careful not to overbake it as the filling will be dry rather than silky and creamy.  Cool the tart completely and chill before serving.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. 

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  1. Hooray for labneh! I usually end up using mine as soup or curry garnish, or instead of cream cheese on a bagel or crispbread. I've never tried it in sweet form, though. This tart looks really good--tangy cheesecake? Sign me up!

  2. Thanks Eileen. I bet the labneh would be wonderful with curry! I can't wait to experiment with it a little more.