We’re a week into the new year and I would be remiss if I didn’t share my resolutions sooner than later. Though, one of my resolutions was to relax more, so it is only fitting that it has been practically a week since my last post and I wasn’t frantically photographing every meal I prepared in the interim. Add on top of that that I was convalescing with flu-like systems for the past few days, and thus eating mostly bland things (yum rice cakes and Gatorade) or nothing at all, and I have a plethora of good reasons for not posting. Did I mention that another one of my resolutions was to make excuses?
So what food challenges and adventures have I decided to take on for 2013? My more astute readers may have picked up on the new juicer in my last post, and one of my new goals is to make good use of it. And my other culinary adventure? Bread! Never have I ever made a loaf in my life, but that will all be changing soon. Baguettes, sourdoughs, corn breads, challahs–while these kitchen staples are old news in the culinary world, they will be new endeavors for me. Okay, so maybe I’ve made cornbread before, but all yeasty breads will be new undertakings.
But before I get on with all that, I wanted to share with you the dessert I made for Christmas dinner: shortbread tarts. It was easy to make, the filling was tangy and sweet, and it hit the spot after a very savory meal. It also really let the fresh fruits it was topped with shine. If you need a dessert that is not too hard to prepare, can be prepared way ahead of time, and is easy to transport, this is a great contender. It is also a good dessert for breaking any new year’s resolutions related to healthy eating.
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes about 20 cupcake size tarts
For the filling:
8 oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature (Do not use low-fat.)
14 oz. can condensed sweetened milk
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the tarts:
2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup minus two tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the garnish:
Kiwis, peeled and sliced
For the filling, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese until light and smooth. Add all of the other ingredients and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Cover and refrigerate the filling for at least 6 hours, or up to a week.
For the shortbread dough, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and light. Add the vanilla extract and beat. Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt, and beat just to incorporate. Place the dough in the fridge to harden for 30-60 minutes. When the shortbread dough has hardened enough to handle, take about a tablespoon of dough and press it against the bottom and sides of a cupcake liner. Repeat for remaining cupcake liners. Once all the dough has been used, place the cupcake liners in the fridge to harden for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake the tarts for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. Check on the tarts half way through the baking time, and if they are puffing up, use a fork to poke holes in the tart and deflate it.
Remove the tart shells from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Once the tarts are cooled, fill each with filling, and top with kiwi and blueberry (or fresh fruit of your choice). Voila!