It’s Sunday and I’m flat-out with piercing back pain. I can stand or lie down but if I sit? Oooeee! Good thing I already had brunch ready, topped off with a gorgeous mixed berry tart studded with praline pecans. Given it’s a school night and there’s work tomorrow, a quick but satisfying indulgence is called for, the operative word being quick. This recipe is a re-make of the ’90’s version of the “fruit pizza”. Any fruit will do as a topping but I feel there’s something lush and almost scandalous about mounds of berries. Adding the store-bought praline pecans takes this tart to a new level. The tart is good served cold or at room temperature. My son, James, loved it as a kid. You’ll love it now!
The twang and tang combination of goat cheese and cream cheese is a fusion that will send your taste buds to an ambrosial rapture. I’m crazy about legitimate, bona fide cheesecake, I mean, who isn’t? My wish is for the tartness of the lemon and cheese to shine through the batter followed by the slightly sweet after glow of a lemon curd topping. I want my filling somewhat dry, almost crumbly, with a hint of bite…as a proper New York cheesecake would be. A cloyingly sweet and gummy cheesecake with a soggy bit of canned fruit topping sitting on a synthetic vanilla wafer is a recipe for disappointment. This recipe will make your heart sing. Pleasing to the eye, these tiny cakes end up looking like little jewels and because they’re bitesize…well,, hey, portion control! The marrying of goat cheese with cream cheese jacks up the flavor. The sweet but tangy lemon curd pairs beautifully with both cheeses and the fresh fruit acts like a foil cutting through the tartlet’s richness.
I happened to have homemade lemon curd on hand, which is always lovely, but if you’re short on time or don’t wish to fuss with it store-bought lemon curd is perfectly fine. It can be found in the grocery store along side the jellies and jams. It does add a surprising contrast of flavors but the lemon curd really acts as a “glue” in order to hold the fresh fruit in place. And, of course, choose your favorite fruits that boast deep, rich colors. Blackberries would be gorgeous. If you’d like to add a glossy to shine to the bites, a quick painting of heated jelly with have your treats sparkling. If you like more of a matte finish, a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar is lovely. But either way this dessert is a bad-ass pleasure. Let me know what you think.
Goat Cheese Cheesecake Bites with Lemon Curd and Fresh Fruit
This tart is to die for. I don’t have a story for you and I don’t care. This tart is one of the most exquisite things on the planet. Takes a little time but well worth it as it’s SCARY good. So good that I cut a piece for myself, one for Jimmy and the rest I’m taking to my Greek school class. How’s that for starting the week off right? This sweet is sorority girl pretty and perfect for a luncheon, baptism or gorgeous spring day. I’ll tell you right from the get-go it’s not my recipe but Ina Garten’s. It’s from her Barefoot in Paris book. And the recipe’s spot on. I’m not crazy about apricot jelly on fruit tarts so I used passion fruit jelly. It really brings out the flavors of the strawberries. And I didn’t have Crisco just lard in the back of the refrigerator for emergencies. Too lazy to accommodate the contents of the refrigerator I used 8 tablespoons of butter instead of 6 and skipped the Crisco all together. But other than that I don’t think I made any other changes except I made it in stages. I made the cream on Friday, the pastry on Saturday and assembled it today, Monday. I have to say I think the cream is better than what you get from a bakery. Maybe it’s the Cognac…I don’t know but it’ll make you swoon. And the pastry…all buttery and crumbly…oh, sweet baby Jesus!! Every bite was perfection. Y’all have just GOT to try this! So here goes. The cream recipe follows.
1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and Crisco and pulse about 10 times or until the butter is the size of peas.
Add the ice-cold water and process until the dough comes together. I needed to add one more tablespoon.
Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disc.
Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Roll out the dough to fit your tart pan. The pan should have removable sides. Do not stretch the dough when placing in the pan or the dough will shrink while baking.
Cut off the excess by running the rolling-pin over the top of the pan.
Line the tart shell with a piece of buttered tin foil, butter side to dough, and fill with dried beans or rice.
Bake 10 minutes. Remove tin foil and prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork. Continue to bake another 15-20 minutes or until just barely browned. Set aside to cool.
Before serving, fill the tart with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries on top of the cream.
Melt the jelly with one teaspoon of water and brush carefully all over the top of the tarts.
If using pistachios, sprinkle over the top.
yield: 2 cups
5 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes or until very thick.
Reduce to low-speed and add cornstarch.
With the mixer on low, SLOWLY pour in the hot milk into the egg mixture.
Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat – I went to medium-low – stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes.
Don’t be alarmed when the mixture begins to boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes. The custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding.
Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter and heavy cream.
Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Another thing I didn’t do. Up to you.
Place plastic wrap directly on to cream and refrigerate until cold.