Strawberry Cream Cheese Shortbread Tart
Sometime during the ’80s, my mother made a lot of fruit tarts like this — I seem to remember they always had kiwi slices on them. Her versions were also glazed with melted currant or apple jelly, so they were a little more polished than this version, which is nice too, or you can stick with the naked fruit, as I have. The taste combination of nutty crust, creamy filling, and fresh fruit is perfectly delicious and summery, and it’s easy enough to make without dragging out the food processor or the KitchenAid (welcome to my new TV show: “Cooking Very Quietly While the Baby Sleeps.”) You can make this with a combination of fruit, whatever is fresh, but it is especially delicious with sweet, slightly soft spring strawberries. I also like it with blueberries or peaches. Last night I tried it with Clotilde Dusoulier’s pâte à sablé tart recipe from the Chocolate and Zucchini Cookbook, which she advises that you may mix with your fingers, forever winning my heart. I cooked it about 5 minutes longer than she calls for, so it would brown really well and have a nice toasty flavor. Despite the unorthodox method, the crust is really delicious, nutty, crunchy, sweet, and sturdy — it might be my new favorite. I can’t wait to try it with something chocolate-y and salty.
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 tbsp cold butter, cut into small cubes
1-2 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and work together with a fork or the tips of your fingers until there are no butter blobs larger than peas. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp milk and stir. It will still look like a big bowl of crumbs but it should clump together well if you squeeze it in your hand — if not, add the 2nd tbsp of milk.
Pour into a 10 inch tart pan, spread evenly over the bottom, and press down and into the sides of the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s slightly browned and smells nutty and toasty. Allow to cool completely.
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 – 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (sweeten to taste)
1 tbsp honey (optional)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
Beat the cream cheese well with a wooden spoon (or mix with the paddle attachment in the KitchenAid). Add remaining ingredients and combine. For variations, try orange zest and juice instead, or try adding 1/2 tsp vanilla.
1-2 pints fresh strawberries or other perfectly ripe summer berries or stone fruit
To assemble the tart, spread the cream cheese filling evenly in the tart shell. Arrange berries or fruit on top.