Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Tart with Basil

It's not often that I post a dessert recipe here because I usually don't have the time to make any fancy desserts (I'm too busy hiking!). Usually, my desserts consist of fruit with nuts and a little bit of sweetener. Last night, for example, I halved 2 apricots, sprinkled some slivered almonds and cinnamon over them, then drizzled a bit of chocolate sauce over it. It was heaven!

Anyways, on to this recipe. I had been dreaming up this recipe for quite a while. And by a while, I mean years. I just never got around to actually making it. I originally wanted to make it with cream cheese (and I think would make a fine substitution for those who don't like goat cheese), but since I'm allergic to dairy, I thought goat cheese would be great.

I first made the tart base using an egg-free version by Michele Cranston. It was one of the few I could find that didn't require eggs, but it did require butter, and is therefore not entirely dairy-free. The filling is sweetened, whipped goat cheese with some chopped basil added in for color and flavor. I sliced some strawberries and gently lined them on top. The whole tart went in the fridge overnight so the goat cheese could stiffen up, and then I tasted it. It was amazing! The waiting was definitely worth it.

The preparation is not difficult, but it is time consuming. This tart is perfect for anyone who is a goat cheese fan or someone who loves strawberries. Either way, I'd say it was a hit! I think next time I'm going to try some apricots with pistachios. Or blueberries with thyme. Or raspberries with cinnamon. Oh the possibilities are endless!

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Tart with Basil
tart base adapted from Michele Cranston
Serves 8

Tart base:
1 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp superfine sugar
pinch of salt
up to 6 tbsp water 

Goat Cheese filling:
1-8 oz tube of goat cheese (or cream cheese)
1 to 2 tbsp almond milk
vanilla powdered sugar, roughly 1/2 to 1 c.
small handful basil, chopped finely

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1. To make the tart base, put the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Add water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until mixture just comes together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the pastry out to fit a 14" x 4" tart pan (or any tart pan). Use plastic wrap on each side of the dough so it doesn't stick to the board or your rolling pin. Grease the pan with PAM, then fill with pastry, being careful not to stretch the dough too much. Chill dough for 30 more minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prick pastry all over with a fork, then cover with crumbled parchment paper and fill with dry beans or cooking weights. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry looks cooked and dry. Set aside to cool.
3. To make the goat cheese filling, combine goat cheese and almond milk in a stand mixer using whisk. Whisk until well mixed. Add powdered sugar, little by little, until you get to you desired sweetness. Stir in the basil. 
4. Spoon the filling into the cooked tart base. Using a spatula, level the filling out. Lay rows of sliced strawberries on top, leaving a small 1/4 in. border so you can see the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
5. Slice and serve cold with a little extra powdered sugar.

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