Sunday, August 22, 2010

peach cream cheese tart

Nantucket table was the theme of supper club this month.  I have never been to Nantucket but, I grew up in Connecticut so, I had an idea of the fresh summer flavors that would need to be captured in my dessert.  A trip to the local farmers market produced a large bag of peaches.  I let them ripen on the counter in the sun all week and the result was fragrant, sweet, juicy peaches.  The smell reminded me of warm summer days running around the neighborhood in shorts with tan skin and a ponytail in my hair.  Stopping the summer play only to bite into a peach and just letting the juice run down your face.  I love raw peaches but, I have an aversion to cooked fruit.  This started in my childhood and has grown worse as I have gotten older.  The jelled mixture clinging to the fruit just is a texture I can't get past.  The aversion stretches out to pies, jelly, yogurt with fruit the list goes on and on.  One point of the supper club is to learn new cooking techniques and try new things so ... I decided I would push myself and make a cooked fruit dessert.  I like that there was a base of lemon zest crust and cream cheese.  It was a good thick, sweet, tangy base.  I chilled the dough overnight and then let it warm up for about 20 minutes on the counter before rolling it out.  It appeared like it was going to be hard to roll but, once I started the process the dough got loose very quickly so you have to move fast.  The fact that I have no air conditioning and our house is 80 degrees inside probably did not help.  The peaches even with the apricot jelly glaze were not overly gooey and actually baked into the cream cheese which made them a bit more sturdy rather than a pie filling consistency.  There are several steps to making this dessert but, they are all quite easy and the results are worth it. 
Peach Cream Cheese Tart
Adapted: Pastry Queen

Lemon Zest Tart Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2/3 cup (11 tbsp) chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream (more as needed)

Cheese Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Fruit Topping
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
5-6 large peaches, pears, or apples

1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tbsp brandy
4 tbsp water

To Make the Tart Crust:
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl on low speed about 30 seconds. Cut the chilled butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture and combine on low speed about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until the mixture looks crumbly, with bits of dough the size of dried peas.
Whisk the egg with the cream and add to the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined. Continue mixing for 10 seconds longer. If the dough is too dry to form a ball, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. Gently mold the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness on a generously floured flat surface. Fold it over the rolling pin and gently transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan. Press it lightly into place.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To Make the Filling:
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Add the mascarpone and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the unbaked tart crust.
To Make the Fruit Topping:
In a medium bowl, stir the cinnamon and sugar together until combined. Peel and pit the peaches, or peel and core the apples or pears, and slice all but one of them.  Dice the remaining peach. Coat the sliced fruit in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Arrange slices around the outer edge of the pie.  Coat with the remaining diced pieces in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Spoon the diced fruit into the spaces between the fruit slices so that the cream cheese filling is completely covered.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
To Make the Glaze:
About 10 minutes before the tart is finished baking, stir the apricot jam, brandy, and water together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Continue heating until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Remove the tart from the oven and brush the glaze over the top. let cool at least 1 hour before serving. When completely cool, this tart may be tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.

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