Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Warm Cream Cheese Tart with Cinnamon and Almonds

I am not the only one who cooks in our family.  My beautiful wife, Clare, is also a great cook and a great baker.  Every once in a while, I ask my Angel to provide a guest blog post so that I can share some of the amazing and delicious things that she makes for family, friends and, of course, me.  She has already provided guest blog posts about Cuban Bread, Loyalist Bread, Salmon Burgers, Peach Cobbler and Parmesan Soufflé.  So, without further ado,

A Guest Blog Post by Clare ...

For a couple of recent parties, I have made a warm cream cheese tart with cinnamon and almonds.  The recipe comes from Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita, which is a cookbook of recipes from Frank Stitt's restaurant, Bottega, in Birmingham, Alabama.  I first made this recipe as part of our wine club dinner.  The warm cream cheese tart was an excellent dessert course that provided a sweet ending to the meal.  I made this recipe again for a Christmas party.  Both times that I have made this recipe, it has turned out well (so, well in fact, that Keith insists that there be some left over for him to eat).

I have to say that it is important to make your own tart shell rather than buying a store bought one.While it takes extra effort, it really pays off in the end.  The tart shell recipe that is in Bottega Favorita is fairly easy to make, with one exception.  While the recipe says that you can refrigerate the dough overnight, I would recommend that you only refrigerate it only for an hour.  If you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, it will take quite a while before the dough becomes workable again. 

The sweet pastry tart shell recipe will produce two tart shells.  You should double the filling and glaze recipes.  The outcome is two very delicious tarts that make great desserts for parties, and, of course, leftovers for Keith. 

WARM CREAM CHEESE TART WITH CINNAMON AND ALMONDS
Recipe from Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita at page 122
Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients for the sweet pastry tart shell):
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 pounds (2 sticks) of unsalted butter
     cut into cubes and chilled
Scant 1 cup of confectioner's sugar
3 large egg yolks

Ingredients (for the filling):
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients (for the glaze):
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup sliced almonds
Whipped cream

Directions (for the sweet pastry tart shell):
1.  Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Add the sugar and egg yolks and pulse again, just until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap, divide in half equally, shape into two disks, and wrap in plastic.  Chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3.  Roll the pasty rounds out on a lightly floured surface into two twelve inch circles.  Fit the dough into two 10 1/2 to 11 inch loose bottomed tart pans with fluted sides, pressing it evenly over the bottom and up the sides.  Line the tarts with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights.

4.  Bake the tart shells for 20 minutes, or until the edges are very light brown.  Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake until lightly golden, about five to ten minutes more.  Cool on a rack before filling.

Directions (for the tart):
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, butter and sugar in a food processor and process until light and creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and process until smooth.  Spread the filling evenly ni the prepared tart shell.

3.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the center is set and the edges and light golden.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow the tart to stand for 2 to 3 minutes, while you prepare the glaze.

4.  Whisk the confectioner's sugar, cinnamon, and hot water together in a small bowl until smooth.

5.  Spread the glaze over the top of the tart.  Garnish the top with the sliced almonds.  Serve warm, with whipped cream.

Finally, I should note that although this is a warm cream cheese tart, it is also very delicious after being refrigerated for a while. As Keith would say ...

ENJOY!

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