Queen of Hearts
Posted on March 13, 2012
When you make this, look over your shoulder for knaves, or anyone lurking, really.
It is so good, I skipped dinner. I know, that seems really indulgent. But I had an extremely healthy pilaf for lunch (kale, carrots, kidney beans, bulgur, onions, veggie stock), and it turns out one serving of this tart has less sugar than a cup of plain yogurt. And it was undoubtedly the best dessert I have ever made. No kidding. How can this be? It is like the perfect storm that sometimes happens when I ponder what ingredients I have on hand, especially fresh ones that need to get eaten, and I start perusing recipes. Instead of finding a recipe, I find this constellation of parts of recipes, and something comes together.
The best part of this dessert is the red ripe and perfectly sweet first-of-the-season organic strawberries, from just 40 miles south of San Antonio. These were less expensive than any conventional berries shipped from South America, or even Mexico. Not to mention, they do not taste like fiberglass. But the other key ingredients were also from down the road– local goat cheese, local cabernet.
I used to make a classic fresh strawberry pie with cream cheese under the berries. But I wanted something more dynamic. So I swapped in some creamy chevre, mixed it with a little milk and cream, lemon zest and a dash of sugar. I piled this into my favorite slightly sweet tart crust. I topped it with the berries.
Then, the stroke of genious, by way of Paris, where some very similar flavors had been combined in a custard. A stolen red wine reduction syrup for the glaze– because sometimes painting the roses red just has to be done, and recipes must be stolen. I cant wait to use this again, it is positively delectable. There is something to be said for using sugar as a spice, instead of the main event. There is just enough sweet to meld the intense flavors of the wine and cheese and berries. All cradled in a buttery and flaky shell, with just a hint of sweet itself.
I was going to wait until morning to photohraph it for you, since the sun went down (yes, a whole hour later than last week, but it’s spring break, and no one is watching the clock around here). Then I put it in my mouth, and I literally rushed to the computer to share this. So, I will still add pics tomorrow, but for now, here is your recette.
Spring Forward Strawberry Tart
inspired by David Lebovitz and Betty Crocker
your favorte tart crust, or this one
1 pint ripe strawberries, washed, greens removed,
5 oz chevre or other mild soft creamy goat cheese (not crumbly or salty)
4 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons milk
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup red wine (I used Becker Vineyards Iconoclast, about $8)
3 tablespoons sugar
Bake the crust and allow it to cool. I used a rectangular tart mold, but this will work in an 8 or 9 inch round pan.
Slice the berries in half, so that they lay as flat as possible. Smaller berries are pyramids, but the larger ones are like a bird beak– slice those along the ridge so that the two pieces are fairly slim. Set them aside.
Make the glaze by heating the wine and sugar in a sauce pan on medium heat. You can leave it unattended, but not for too long. After about 5-10 minutes, it will thicken rapidly. Remove it before it becomes candy– when it is reduced by half. While it is cooking, keep an eye on it and make the goat cheese mixture.
Blend the cheese, milk, cream, sugar and zest with a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly mixed, fluffy like whipped cream cheese. Spread it carefully, with a fork or small spoon, into the cooled tart crust. Lay the berries cut side down as close together as possible, layering the smaller ones over the spaces between the large ones. Use a brush to make sure the glaze gets on every berry, then drizzle the rest where you see it needs it.
(for those curious, if you divide this into 8 servings, each has about 8 grams of sugar)