Strawberry season has arrived in Eastern North Carolina, and I am loving it. The California strawberries can rot in the stores for all I care, I have nice, ripe, juicy and sweet local strawberries. (No offense intended to Californians; it's just that, by the time we get your strawberries, which have been picked before they fully ripen, they are not so great. Local produce is always the best. If I lived in California, I'd be waiting for California strawberries.)We had company for dinner last night, and I made this yummy strawberry cream tart for dessert. The recipe is actually a combination of several recipes, with my own twists and turns. The only complaint I have about this dessert is that it's hard to get the crust out of the pan. I don't own a tart pan with a removable bottom. Maybe I'll try a different crust next time -- one that has more butter in it. Still, even with the difficult crust, this was delicious and the crust was tender and sweet, once it came out.
Strawberry Cream Tart
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup self-rising flour
2 Tbsp. fat-free half and half
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 pt. fresh strawberries
1/4 cup superfine sugar (you can put regular sugar in a food processor)
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. Smart Balance buttery spread (or butter if you prefer)
1-1/4 pints fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp. Triple Sec or Creme de Almond
3 oz. Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/3 cup lite sour cream, very cold
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease bottom and sides of a 10" tart pan. Make crust: Put all ingredients in work bowl of food processor and pulse till dough comes together. Press onto bottom and sides of pan. Prick dough all around with a fork, as below:
While crust is cooling, prepare strawberry topping: Wash and hull strawberries. Toss with liqueur and let stand while preparing other ingredients.
Make strawberry glaze: Wash and hull strawberries. Cut them up and put them in a saute' pan. Crush them with a potato masher, add remaining ingredients except butter. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, bring to boiling. Mixture will be thickened and translucent. Strain; add butter; cool.
Prepare cream filling: Put cheese and sugar in work bowl of food processor (or medium mixing bowl) and pulse (or beat with electric mixer) till well combined and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and pulse (or beat) till whipped and thickened.
Assemble tart: Spread cream filling on bottom of cooled crust. Drain strawberries and place them on top of cream filling. Spoon or brush glaze over each strawberry (I used a pastry brush).
Refrigerate for several hours to thoroughly chill. Yield: 6-8 servings