During my tenure at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, I helped expand their menu offerings, most notably developing the coffee custard pie and a black sesame custard pie, both of which have become fan favorites. This rich and creamy toasted white sesame tart is a riff on the latter. Here, I’ve updated it with some key tweaks: swapping white for black sesame seeds adds a delicate nutty flavor (although the difference in taste can be subtle, black sesame seeds have a pungent, earthy, and slightly bitter flavor), while toasted sugar introduces notes of caramel, and a touch of honey brings floral-sweet undertones. To make this tart even richer, a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache coats the inside bottom of the cookie-like crust, delivering a hint of chocolate with every bite. A final touch of sprinkled sesame seeds over the top adds crunch.
The filling consists of a custard base, a variation on your basic egg custard, which is made by heating eggs, milk or cream, sugar, and flavorings together, like in these roasted buckwheat custards. As the eggs heat, the proteins in the whites and yolks denature, or unfold, and then coagulate, or bond together, to form a strong, flexible network, giving the custard its signature silky, smooth texture. In this case, the addition of an extra egg yolk, a small amount of flour, and sour cream help thicken and stabilize the filling as it bakes in the oven, along with adding richness, body, and texture.
The finished tart will be at home on any holiday table, whether as an alternative to a classic pie or alongside multiple dessert options.