Is this really my first post of 2014? Oops! It’s been a good and not so good year for me. My ever so understanding hubby bought me 2 shiny new bikes (sexy Italian carbon fiber for the road and good ol’ American titanium for cyclocross!) and I’ve been having a blast on two wheels. My speed and distance have topped out at 18-20 mph on flat roads, averaging ~100 miles a week. And then I went crazy with all the climbs, broke my titanium pedal with my beefy 120 lb body (?!) and hurt my knee trying to get ready for a 100+ mile 1-day ride with 7000 ft in elevation gain around a gorgeous alpine lake-filled crater😦 I’ve finally been able to reintroduce hills into my riding routes and am smiling my way up 5% grades (>10% and it turns into an Andy Schlek rictus grin😛 ).
What does this have to do with berry tarts? Erm, I’ve been so busy on my bike that while I have been cooking and creating lots of new and some delicious recipes, I’ve been a bit too preoccupied to actually photograph and post them. Mea culpa. So to celebrate some long overdue get togethers, career advancements, and relocations, I’m here to show you that you can impress your friends and family with a beautiful, scrumptious dessert that takes so little effort you’re better off
taking acting lessons from World Cup soccer faking pain and suffering so they don’t accuse you of buying it from the local pâtissier😀
One of my NYC friends still waxes rhapsodic about this tart years later and my only response is you can have it 6 months out of the year for free … just move 3000 miles west hehe. This tart has the trifecta of crispy delicate shortbready pâte brisée crust, smooth creamy filling with pops of lemon zest, and tartly sweet berries. The fact that the crust is so easy to make as you pound and press away your cares for the day is just another one of life’s bonuses. This is the best crust to make if you claim to have absolutely no skill in the kitchen because you literally just press it into place, no rolling, lifting, or quantum mechanics necessary. If you played with play-doh or clay as a kid
or even if no one loved enough to introduce you to the joys of pounding clay or even if you didn’t you’ll come out of this looking like a rock star.
I’m really not holding out on you, it’s just that easy. Okay, 1 trick. Make sure your cream cheese is softened to room temp, that way it’ll mix easily into the whipped cream instead of making lumpy little tangy islands in your tart filling.
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt or substitute 1 pinch table salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter straight from the refrigerator, cut into individual tablespoons
1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, and sea salt. Using a pastry cutter or your cold, poor circulation hands like mine, blend butter into flour mixture till you get a texture like wet sand. Add egg yolk and combine till you get a uniform clay-like ~4-inch diameter ball. Edible play-doh!
In a 9-inch fluted tart pan or removable bottom pan press out dough starting from the center till it’s of a uniform thickness ~1/2-inch across the bottom and up the sides of the pan to just above the edge of the pan (the crust will shrink a bit, ~1/4-1/2 inch, as it bakes). Lightly score the dough with the tines of a fork to keep it from puffing up asymmetrically as it bakes. Bake till pale golden in color ~14-20 minutes. In a metal removable bottom pan it takes me ~14 minutes with convection and with a ceramic pan it takes ~16 minutes with convection. Since this tart is being transported to a dinner party, I’ve opted to use a ceramic pan without a removable bottom which bakes just fine but makes it almost impossible to remove the slices intact [cries]. Remove from heat and let cool till crust is at room temperature ~30-40 minutes.
Rapsberry Fruit Tart
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 pint (~1 c) heavy whipping cream
6 oz Neufchâtel (reduced fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pints fresh raspberries (or your favorite aggregate berry like marionberries, blackberries, or salmonberries)
1-2 tbsp powdered sugar for decoration, optional
While crust is cooling mix together tart filling. Whip sugar and cream on high speed till peaks form. Add cream cheese, zest if using, and vanilla then mix till combined. Pour filling into room temperature tart, level, and top with berries. Dust with powdered sugar if using. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Makes 6-8 servings. Sprinkle your face with some flour and garner all that praise for your arduous hard work😉