Sunday, June 28, 2009

Red, white and blue tart

This is a spinoff and simpler version of my favorite lemon curd and cream cheese tart. I was looking for a pronounced lemon flavor but without the fuss of making lemon curd (even though it's just so darn delicious, it's totally worth the effort...I just simply ran out of time). I used the same cookie base. If you want a finer, shortbread like texture, cut the butter in cold rather than smushing softened butter into the flour. I found that the texture of the crust improved and the lemon flavor deepened after a day in the fridge, which makes this a super duper make ahead recipe. As long as you dry your berries thoroughly before placing them on top and choose strawberries that aren't even a little bit mushy, it'll be fine.

Cookie crust:
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup finely ground pecans or almonds, optional

Mix crust ingredients together until dough forms. Press firmly and evenly against the bottom and side of ungreased 10 or 11 inch tart pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown, cool.

Lemony cream cheese:

1 8 ounce brick cream cheese

zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Blueberries and strawberries, washed and thoroughly dried

Do NOT microwave the cream cheese. Beat it chilled. I promise it'll whip up fine given a few minutes and a little patience. If you nuke it, it'll go runny on you. Beat the cream cheese until it's lump free, then beat in the lemon juice and zest, and then the sugar. Beat for several minutes on high until it is fluffy and the sugar has dissolved sufficiently to no longer give a granular texture. (I used granulated rather than powdered sugar, because powdered sugar in small quantities added to cream cheese tends to contributed to runniness. Not sure why, but it consistently happens to me.) Spread into the cooled crust, arrange the berries over the top and chill for at least an hour before serving.

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