Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

In case you've been wondering what that tart is that adorns the cover of my new CD-rom, here it is. 
This is one of the simplest tarts you can make. It’s got a press-in crust, perfect for those short on time or skittish about rolling dough, and a cream cheese filling that can be whipped up in a flash. Arranging the berries can be time consuming, but the tart is equally impressive if the berries are simply piled on. It tastes great with raspberries, too.


Press-in Sablé Crust

1-1/4 cups (163 grams) all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled into measuring cups
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg yolk, cold
1 teaspoon cold water

1 egg white, whisked

Cream Cheese Cream Filling
4 ounces neufchatel cheese (lite cream cheese), room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream

Strawberry Topping
1 pound strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup strained strawberry jam or jelly
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin mixed with 2 teaspoons water, optional

For the crust:
Prepare the tart pan (with removable bottom) by rubbing a piece of slightly softened butter on the bottom and around the rim of the pan.

Remove the excess butter by running your finger up the flutes.

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse, to mix the ingredients together. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes and add to the processor. Pulse on and off, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water. Add to the processor and process for 10 - 20 seconds, until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and press it into a ball. To fit the dough into the pan, start with gumball-sized lumps of dough. Squeeze the dough between your fingers until it is about 1/16-inch thick. Place in the pan.

Repeat with the remaining dough, piecing everything together to make a solid crust (you should have a golf ball-size lump of dough left over). To trim the edges, run a rolling pin over the top of the pan.

Press the edges up slightly to thin them out and to make the edges a little higher than the pan. If the bottom crust is very bumpy, you can flatten it by tamping with the bottom of a glass.  Prick the bottom of the dough, about 12 times, with a fork.

Freeze the tart for 15 minutes or until firm to the touch. Press greased aluminum foil snugly on top of the dough. Fill the foil with pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and beans and bake 8-12 minutes more until lightly browned. Immediately, brush the egg white over the crust. The heat of the tart will set the egg and make it more moisture resistant. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the filling:
Place the cream cheese in a mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Sift in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and beat on medium-low until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. In another bowl, place the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. Beat on high until the cream forms stiff peaks. Stir about 3/4 cup whipped cream into the cheese mixture, and then fold in the balance of the whipped cream. Spoon the filling into the pie shell.
For the topping:
The strawberries will look prettiest if the tart is served within 3 hours of cutting them, but if this is not possible, they’ll still be fine up to 8 hours after assembling. For a simple presentation, the berries can be brushed with the jam or jelly and put on the cake whole, or sliced and put onto of the tart haphazardly.

This is from Amazing Dairy-free Desserts, but you can see how pretty a haphazard tart can look.

For a more showy presentation, slice the strawberries, tip to stem, into 1/8-inch slices. Brush them with melted jam, or if the tart will stand for more than a few hours, mix the gelatin and water together in a small bowl. Let it stand a few minutes to absorb the water and then microwave until liquidy and hot, about 15 seconds. Place the strawberry jam in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Spoon in the gelatin mixture. Cook, while stirring, until the mixture is smooth and clear. Brush over the strawberries.

Arrange the strawberry slices on the top of the cake in concentric, overlapping circles. Start at the outside of the tart using the largest slices. Try and put the second row between two adjacent berries.

Complete all the rows, and for the center, you can use a whole strawberry, a sixth of a berry with very thin slices of strawberry wrapped around it, or just a few slices sticking up.

Remove the outer rim, just before serving.  Serve the tart within 3 hours for optimal looks or up to 8 hours later. It will look quite sad the second day, but will be fine for leftovers. Do not freeze.

1 comment:

Shasta said...

Wow! This looks delicious!