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Strawberry Tart with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8 to 10

They make a really good berry tart at one of my local grocery store bakeries. It has a sweet pastry crust, cream cheese filling, and is topped with various berries with a light berry glaze. One day at that store, I purchased some pound cake, strawberries and whipping cream for a quick and easy dessert. Before I went to checkout, I saw that berry tart, and it did not cost any more than what I was about to pay for the other dessert ingredients. After I got home, I started thinking about it, researched a few recipes, placed the pound cake in the freezer for later use, and decided to get busy and make my own tart. This is the result, and it really is easy, delicious and makes a lovely presentation. Your family and guests will be very impressed. Do not let the length of the recipe intimidate you. I promise it is easy, including the crust, which gets pressed into the pan rather than rolled. See the notes below for using berries other than strawberries.


   Crust    Filling    Berries and Glaze

To make the crust, place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend. Cut the cold butter into cubes about 1/2-inch. Add to the flour and pulse until the mixture is quite coarse. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse briefly. While pulsing, gradually add the remaining water, just enough until the dough starts to stick together. Place the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and gently form into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Press the chilled dough into a 9-inch tart pan with fluted sides and removable bottom, starting with the sides first. Return to refrigerator for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F. With a fork, prick some holes in the bottom of the chilled crust. Cover with foil, pressing lightly into the bottom and sides. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 7 minutes, or until golden. (If using dried beans, cool and store for future pie crusts. Do not use for a bean recipe.)

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Add the flour and mix until blended. Set aside until needed. Remove the golden crust from the oven and add the cream cheese mixture. Return to the oven and bake until the custard is set, about 30 minutes. Check with a table knife. It should come out dry when inserted in the center. Remove to rack and let cool completely.

When pie is cool, rinse berries under cool running water. Remove the stems and pat dry. In a small saucepan, heat the jam with the water over medium heat until melted. Cool slightly. Slice the berries in half lengthwise. (If they are small, they do not need to be sliced, but I rarely find small strawberries.) Arrange the strawberries, cut-side down and slightly overlapping as needed, in a decorative pattern on top of the pie. Brush generously with the glaze. For the best results, refrigerate at least another hour before serving.

Notes: You can use any berries you want, so long as they are very fresh and ripe enough to be sweet. Blueberries or raspberries are great. Keep them whole and use the appropriate jam for the glaze. Some sliced kiwi mixed in is very nice. The most important thing is to make certain the fruit or berries are perfect and sweet. Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days and are very good, but the bottom crust will soften.