Sunday, April 29, 2007

The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

And truly it was. I think these will become a staple. They're quite simply the perfect little dessert if you're having people over for a low key dinner. Plus they're smaller, so you can have one or a few. They're so simple to whip up, they look spectacular, and they taste amazing. Our local farmer produce market Youngstocks (a little corner outdoor store that sells the most amazing fresh produce for a fraction of what the large stores are selling less tasty produce for) has had the most amazing strawberries. Those of you that know me really well, or have known me for a long time know that I am usually extremely picky about my strawberries. Ever since my trip to Norway where the strawberries taste like candy, I have been a strawberry snob. Our strawberries, for whatever reason, are often almost always tasteless, watery, and generally sour, even when they should be sweet. So when I bought a box of them a few weeks ago at Youngstocks and the checkout clerk told me he had bought some the night before and they were "amazing" I took it with a grain of salt. I got home, and low and behold, they were amazing, comperable to those in Norway. Seriously. Plus they cost $1 less a box than they do at Fred Meyer, and probably $2-$3 less than they cost at Haggen. I've got my fingers crossed this good strawberry trend continues well into the summer, I've got my eye on a Strawberry Tiramisu recipe.

These tarts have a shortbread crust, a lemon cream cheese filling that has the texture of a nice smooth cheesecake. The lemon zest gives them a real freshness, but it's not overpowering. And topped with a fresh strawberry, this is probably an ideal dessert for me. It's small, it's fresh, it's sweet, it has a cream cheese filling, it's just perfect. And oh-so presentable. They're the perfect ending to any meal along side a hot cup of black coffee. Try these out, you won't be dissapointed, I promise!

Recipe: Shortbread Tart with Cream Cheese Filling and Strawberries

Makes: 15 Tarts

Shortbread Dough:

1 stick unsalted butter room temp
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cups flower
1/2 TBS corn starch
pinch of salt

1. Cream butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.
2. Add remaining dry indgredients and combine well.
3. Spoon equal parts of dough into your mini tart shells (dough will be sticky) and smooth out and into edges.
4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden dough and prevent puffing up during baking.
5. Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Check on dough every 5 minutes, if puffing up occurs poke with a fork.
6. Allow to cool

Cream Cheese Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar* (or more depending on taste/consistency)
2 TBS heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon

*To be honest I kind of just pulled this out of my ass, and I didn't measure a lot of things. You'll want enough sugar for your filling to be thick but not too sweet. I also put the filling in the refrigerator for a while before piping into cool shells which made it a little thicker.

1. Cream the cheese and sugar together for a fe minutes until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Combine.
3. Add heavy cream to combine.
4. Refrigerate while shells cool.
5. Pipe into shells using a star tip.
5. Top with hulled strawberry
5. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.