Front Burner #3: Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

First, I want to say that I acknowledge that, while my recipe-sharing category is named, “Front Burner,” I have yet to share a recipe that didn’t need to be baked in the oven (as opposed to being prepared on a burner on top of the stove).  I’m making risotto for dinner tonight, however, and I promise to share the recipe, so people looking for healthy and tasty dinner recipes (as opposed to fun to bake and eat sweets, which tend to be my favorite things to talk about) can rest assured that I’ll share something in that milieu soon.

In the meantime, I’m sharing this recipe, which has several great qualities.  First, it’s relatively cheap to make.  Second, it’s easy.  Seriously.  Even people who don’t consider themselves bakers could put this tart together in nothing flat.  Third (and perhaps, most important) it’s fan-friggin’-tastic.  It is sooooooooo good.  The graham cracker crust lends a great crunchy texture paired with the almond-scented cream and luscious topping of strawberries.  You may be inclined to regard the toasted sliced almonds as purely decorative and therefore not “necessary,” but it takes no time at all to toast them (and only a few minutes to rim the tart with them), and they add that wonderful, toasty, nutty element that cuts through the sweetness of the cream.  Sometimes it’s the littlest details that elevate a dish from pretty good to total standout, and I think the almonds are that detail in this recipe.

Oh–and did I mention it’s from Cooking Light magazine?  So you can enjoy your slice and not feel like you’re ready for a long nap afterward.

This would be a wonderful treat to surprise your mama with on Mother’s Day.  But it’s so easy that you could just whip it up as a way of saying, “Happy Tuesday!” to yourself or someone you love.  If nothing else, it’s strawberry season, and that is definitely something worth celebrating.

As always, my notes on technique and other aspects of the recipe are at the end of this post.  Enjoy!

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

10 servings

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 36  honey graham crackers (about 9 sheets)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 4  teaspoons  water
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 2/3  cup  light cream cheese
  • 1/4  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  almond extract

Topping:

  • 6  cups  small fresh strawberries, divided
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  tablespoons  sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and water; pulse just until moist. Place mixture in a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 inch. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of tart shell.

To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor; process until pureed. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat, and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine 4 cups strawberries and juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for another use). Sprinkle nuts around edge. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Note: You can use either an 8 x 12-inch rectangular pan or a 9-inch round tart pan. The recipe also works with a 9-inch springform pan and a 10-inch pie plate.

Verbal Cupcake’s tips and advice:

First, I don’t have a food processor, so I crushed the graham crackers the old fashioned way, as my mom does: by loading them into a ziploc bag and beating them good with a rolling pin.  Works just fine, and it’s one less item to wash later.  I do have a “mini-prep” from Cuisinart, and I used that to puree the berries.  Another thing I should note here: as you will see, the recipe says explicitly that you will only use half of the glaze.  I went ahead and just halved the glaze recipe.  I didn’t really want the other half to go to waste, plus I had only bought two pints of strawberries, so I didn’t want to puree a bunch of berries to make glaze I wouldn’t use. When it came time to assemble the tart, I also didn’t follow the step of spooning the glaze on top of the berries.  I was worried I would glop it too heavily, so I tossed the berries with the glaze and then laid each one on top by hand.  I felt that this helped me have an even coating for the berries.

This will not be the “sturdiest” tart; serve the slices with a cake server or a spatula underneath.  Because it is a Cooking Light recipe, the crust is not super substantial (something that I, frankly, appreciate, since I’d rather have filling and topping than crust), so if you try to serve a slice just on a butter knife (something I do with things like pumpkin pie, which holds together nice and tight), it will likely fall apart.  Personally, I say, who cares?  Serve it in a bowl and pretend it’s a parfait.  But I can understand that if you are baking for a special occasion, you do want the slices to look as pretty as possible, so break out a server that can support the slices on their way to the plate.

You can see what others had to say about this recipe on its “Reviews Page.” I will take this opportunity to simply say that some of the reviews were puzzling to me.  People talked about doubling the cream filling the “next time” they make it (which would add to the calorie count) and even doubling the strawberry topping as well.  I don’t know how that would all fit on one crust recipe, but perhaps they will have success.  I think the tart is perfect as-is–really well-balanced and not super sweet.

Cooking Light’s Nutritional Info. is below.  With that in mind I will just say that I made mine in a 9″ tart pan, and I think eight servings (rather than ten) would be a more accurate reflection of the recipe yield, but more power to you if you can stretch this to feed ten people.

Happy strawberry season!

Nutritional Information: Calories: 289 (28% from fat); Fat: 8.9g (sat 4.2g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.5g; Protein: 4.5g; Carbohydrate: 48.7g; Fiber: 3g; Cholesterol: 15mg; Iron: 1.3mg; Sodium: 242mg; Calcium: 59mg.
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About Sarah

Grammar goddess, cultural critic, full-time media junkie. I read, I bake, I watch tv. And then I write about it.
This entry was posted in Foodstuffs, From Scratch and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Front Burner #3: Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

  1. Amy says:

    This looks awesome. I especially like the way the cloudy San Francisco sky is reflected in the strawberries. Seriously, though, this looks therapeutic to make and to eat. And I would have no problem finding use of the extra glaze–it’s called ‘midnight snack.’

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