Festive recipe: Tantalising Christmas tart from Dubai's Vibe Cafe

Tweaked to serve a family of six, this treat is indulgent and nostalgic, says chef Sagar Kumar

This Christmas tart recipe was inspired by a love of s’mores. Photo: Vibe Cafe
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The holiday season is here, and with it comes the chance to make and feast on delicious and traditional treats that tantalise the taste buds and fill one with a sense of nostalgia.

In this series of seasonal dishes, we ask chefs from some of the UAE's top restaurants to share their favourite festive recipes.

Christmas tart from Vibe Cafe

Sagar Kumar, the executive chef at Vibe Cafe, is hard to miss in his customary pink chef’s jacket. Kumar, who is from India, is an advocate of clean eating and unprocessed foods. Of the Christmas tart recipe he shares with The National, he says: “In the winter, I love to go camping in the desert with my family, and this dish was inspired by my children who love making s’mores around the campfire. It is indulgent, refreshing and a nostalgic treat.

"In the restaurant we sell individual tarts, but this recipe is for one large tart – perfect for the whole family.”

Christmas tart

Serves six

Ingredients and method for the crust

  • 6 whole graham crackers
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Place the crackers in the bowl of a food processor and grind until fine crumbs form. Add the salt, sugar and melted butter, and process again until well combined.
  3. Place the crumbs in a tart pan (use a nine-inch pan with a removable base) and evenly spread the mix so it covers the bottom and sides. Press down on the mix firmly to make a compact layer. Use your fingers to pinch and press some of the crumbs around the inside edge of the pan to cover the sides evenly and create a rim about a quarter of an inch thick.
  4. Bake the crust until it’s golden and smells nutty, which should take about 10 minutes. Set the baked crust on a rack and let cool. Note: The tart crust can be made up to a day in advance and stored at room temperature, wrapped well in cling film.

Ingredients and method for the custard

  • 500ml full fat milk or half & half
  • ⅓ cup + ¼ cup granulated white sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped (or 2.5 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Add milk, one-third of a cup of sugar, salt, the scraped vanilla seeds and the pod (or the vanilla extract) to a saucepan. Simmer on a medium-high heat, but don’t let it boil. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes while the vanilla infuses.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and the quarter cup of sugar until combined.
  3. Once the milk has infused, remove the vanilla pod and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Turn off the heat and keep whisking while slowly drizzling in half the milk to the egg yolk mixture (this makes sure they don’t turn into scrambled eggs).
  4. While whisking, pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, which takes five to seven minutes. If it looks curdled, bring to a boil, switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook and whisk constantly for another two minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like a pudding.
  5. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. If there are lumps, strain into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until set, at least three hours or up to two days.

Ingredients and method for the meringue

  • 12g powdered gelatin
  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid glucose
  • 18g finely ground freeze-dried raspberry powder
  1. Add gelatin and 100ml water of to a small saucepan and dissolve.
  2. Put the egg whites in a free-standing mixer bowl.
  3. Place the sugar and liquid glucose in a pan with 100ml water and gently heat, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a boil, leave a sugar thermometer in the syrup to check temperature. When the syrup reaches 115°C, whisk in the egg whites. When the syrup reaches 120°C, remove from the heat and place the gelatin and water mixture in another saucepan over a very low heat (make sure it does not boil).
  4. Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, whisking continuously, then pour in the melted gelatin and continue whisking until it’s cold and the meringue is soft but holds its shape.
  5. Add freeze-dried raspberry powder and mix until evenly distributed.

To serve

  1. Put the filling into a piping bag with a round nozzle and pipe the meringue on top of the custard-filled tarts.
  2. If you have it, use a blowtorch to slightly scorch the outside. If you don't, place the tart under the grill until slightly brown.

Scroll through the gallery to see some more foods traditionally enjoyed over the festive season

Updated: December 22, 2022, 2:03 PM