April 17, 2008

Strawberry Cheesecake Tart

One of my favorite desserts is a fruit tart and usually that's what I either make or Justin buys for my birthday "cake." Last year I saw a recipe for a cheesecake fruit tart in a cookbook and thought at the time that it would be neat to try for my birthday this year. Unfortunately, it isn't a cookbook I own and I didn't get around to checking it out again before my birthday rolled around.

So, I had to put my own recipe together. Fortunately it turned out well.

For the crust:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
dash of salt

You are supposed to mix the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla, and then mix in the flour and salt. In my pregnancy induced inability to remember things for more than 30 seconds, I got all the ingredients out, threw them all in the bowl together and started mixing. Somehow it all turned out just fine. Once everything is mixed together, dump it into a 10-inch round false-bottom tart pan and press it down. Chill for fifteen minutes or so in the refrigerator, while you heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When you are ready to proceed, butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and put it buttered side down on top of the dough. Fill the foil with dried beans or rice (or if you want to get fancy, you could use actual pie weights). Bake for 20 minutes, take off the foil and beans and prick all over with a fork. If you were going to make a normal fruit tart with a custard filling, you would then bake the crust for another 20 minutes, but since you'll be baking it again with the cheesecake, just go ahead and let the crust cool down to room temperature while you make the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:

12 ounces full fat cream cheese (that's 1 1/2 blocks of it), at room temperature
1/2 cup full fat sour cream, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Turn the heat in the oven down to 325 degrees.

Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and fluffy (those of you with stand mixers can use them, but a hand mixer works just fine). Add the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and blend together at medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and continue to beat the ingredients together again until everything is really smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time or together (if you forget that they aren't supposed to go in separately), beating after each addition until the mixture is completely smooth with no lumps.

Find the crust you left cooling some place. Pour in the filling and smooth the top if necessary, but things will settle and flatten out quite a bit without any help from you. Bake the cheesecake for 24-28 minutes or until just slightly jiggly in the middle. Cool on a cooling rack like the ones my husband insisted we acquire when newly married and impoverished and he's never once let me forget that I didn't think were necessary ("Yes, dear, I do use them all the time. Yes, dear, you were right."), then refrigerate overnight. Cheesecake recipes will always tell you to cool the cheesecake for at least four hours, but they are wrong. Four hours of cooling time is not enough. Two days would actually be better, but overnight works.

For the topping, I had intended to get several varieties of berries, but the prices of everything other than strawberries was astronomical. I can't wait until my blueberries make their appearance (my three year old bush is loaded with blossoms and I planted four more varieties of blueberries this year planning for years to come). Anyway, back to the cheesecake. It wound up being a strawberry topped one, because everything else cost too much, but any berries and most other fruits would have worked quite well. Spread them on in a pretty pattern and you have a lovely cheesecake fruit tart, good enough for a birthday or other festive occasion.


Yum - gotta love recipes that specify full-fat ingredients - it really does make a difference.

Berry prices here are nuts, too. I'm not much for raspberries, but adore blueberries. If you ever need help harvesting your bushes =^)...although I may be worse than kids at eating more than I put in the basket!

Posted by: Diane at April 18, 2008 06:50 AM

I think I found what I will be taking to my plant exchange brunch in a few weeks. Thank you.

Posted by: Earth Girl at April 18, 2008 07:13 AM