Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

Cream cheese is always an indulgence, whether it is the star of the show or in a sidekick supporting role. I had a bit of cream cheese leftover- there wasn’t enough to make a full on cheesecake and I didn’t want to make a frosting out of it. This Tart has got a cream cheese custard filling which feels wonderfully light and silky on the palate. Of course, it’s a rich dessert- with eggs, cream, cream cheese and a stick of butter. But you could conveniently forget it for a few minutes and dig in. We cannot relish desserts with a guilty mind, can we ?

Now let’s talk about the crust. It’s a shortbread crust, something nouvelle to me. Preparation time is a simple whizz in the food processor, then you cool the tart shell in the freezer for about 15 minutes and pop it straight into the oven ( no  fussing with pie weights involved) . The butter lends all its taste to the crust, so be sure to use a good quality butter. And the texture is so like a crumbly buttery cookie. The tart shell almost steals the show. **Reminder to myself- use this crust more often for your sweet desserts.

As for the filling, it’s a pourable mixture which firms up into a smooth custard once baked. The tart is done when the centre of the custard still has a slight jiggle to it when shaken. The original recipe calls for raspberries, I used diced strawberries because where I live we do not get fresh raspberries. I am pretty sure you could use any fruit and call this tart a success. I flavoured the custard with both orange zest and vanilla essence – why ? Cos I am the type who thinks orange zest makes everything better !


Congratulating myself  on having found a new dessert other than cheesecakes to make using cream cheese. Cheesecakes, move over !


Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart 

Makes about 8 – 10 servings

Shortbread Crust *

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup  confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1/2 cup cold salted butter, cut into pieces

Filling

4 ounces (115 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup  granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup  cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest(zest of half an orange)
8 medium sized fresh strawberries , washed , hulled and diced small

Method

Shortbread Crust

1. Take either an 8 or a 9 inch (20-23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.

2. In your food processor, place the flour and sugar ,then process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pastry just starts to come together and form clumps.

3. Place the pastry in your tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Gently pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. This will prevents the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.

4. Cover and place the pastry crust in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. This will help prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes.

5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.

6.  Place the tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
Filling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees C).

2. In your food processor (or an electric mixer or with a hand mixer) place the cream cheese and process until smooth. Add sugar and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Add remaining ingredients and process until  smooth.
3. Carefully pour the filling into the pre-baked tart shell. Arrange the fresh strawberries seed side up in the filling and then bake the tart for about 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is set. The centre of the filling should have a slight jiggle when the pan is shaken gently. Transfer tart to wire rack to cool.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.


* You can watch the video on how to make a shortbread crust here .

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

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