Sunday, July 5, 2009
Star Studded Tart
The whole tribe at Little Hunting Creek had a happy 4th Of July, and we hope you did too. We spent the day happily reading the newspaper, hanging out, doing nothing, then making our traditional favorites for our feast: baked beans, potato salad, Virginia Barbecue Pork sandwiches, and cole slaw. In past Independence Day celebrations, I had made a Flag Cake, and as anyone with small children could tell you, once you make a Flag Cake for small children, you will be making Flag Cake every 4th for the next ten years.
But this year, with the small children at age 18 and 24, I felt that the time was ripe to break free from the Flag Cake hegemony and think outside the patriotic dessert box. I decided to invent a Berry Star Tart instead.
For the crust, I used this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine. I added some lemon zest and a tablespoon more sugar. I prebaked according to instructions, then while it cooled, I made the filling. For the filling I used 4 oz cream cheese mixed with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, a couple tablespoons of powered sugar, the juice and zest from half a lemon. I added two tablespoons of instant Clearjel powder from King Arthur Flour Bakers Catalogue. (Which is magic stuff for pies and tarts and lots more. If you like to bake you need some. Not affiliated, of course, just a happy addict.) Taste and see if this is sweet enough for you. I tend to think most desserts are too sweet, so I use less sugar than other chefs in my desserts. I made a glaze for the top with 1 cup pureed strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water (or use your favorite juice) and three tablespoons cornstarch. Heat this until it boils and is glaze-y. The cornstarch will thicken it, so keep whisking until smooth and use right away or it gets too thick to pour and then you'll have to warm it up again. I added a little lemonade to thin it, because by that time I had used up all of the lemon juice. It was delicious enough to eat by itself. You could also use warmed jelly or jam with a little liqueur added.
Ms. Hunting Creek happily arranged blueberries and strawberries in a festive star burst pattern, and then we applied the glaze to the star and around the edges. We have lots of leftover glaze available for warming and using to top other tarts or ice cream and berries later this week.
This tart was admired by all last night, and leftovers were eaten for breakfast this morning with coffee. My tart looked so pretty in the Bennington dish, handmade in Vermont and bought one July several years ago. To paraphrase Brillat-Savarin, the invention of a new fruit tart adds more to human happiness than the discovery of a new star.