Winter is finally over! We got the last flurries this week, and they melted mid-morning under the early spring sunrise. I spotted the first burgundy-purple sprouts of tulip leaves timidly rising among winter’s carcass of dead leaves. How wonderful it is to see the thaw after the long winter and gradually get ready to sprout and bloom.
One of my favorite spring bakes is to make a fruit tart. I love that you can prepare the dough for the crust in advance and that the shells can be filled with all kinds of creamy, luscious flavors. There are an endless number of combinations between crust, filling, and topping, making it almost impossible to go wrong. Fresh fruit on a rich, decadent filling is one of the most amazing toppings you can ever place on a tart, especially in spring, when we are all craving fresh, sweet, seasonal fruit from the earth. In addition to the endless number of combinations you can make with fruit tarts, I love that fruit tarts are an uncomplicated dessert and allow the fruit to be the star. Fresh fruits, especially berries, are so pretty, sweet, and slightly tart. It gets me ready for summer eating, when food is less fussy and the focus is on fresh produce and taking the time to wash, slice, and pair the various fruits of the earth. Spring gets us ready for the days when sunlight lasts forever. We can open the windows, letting the fresh outside air in, and we can enjoy the deep floral scent of fresh rain thudding on the earth, gently massaging it and making it ready for the season of growing. I am hoping that this spring and summer I will get to bring you all of my favorite recipes for fresh fruit tarts and stone fruit pies, starting with this one.
Today’s fruit tart is a different recipe from others I’ve made in the past, but still lives up to my undying love of fruit tarts, and I think you’ll adore it too. The crust is a classic, buttery pâte sablée, but instead of holding a heap of traditional pastry cream, I opted for a no-bake filling of fluffy, freshly-beaten whipped cream and cream cheese. A touch of orange blossom extract adds a delightful flavor that reminds me of the orange trees in Argentina, growing in the barrio inglés, Temperley’s British neighborhood. The filling also has a hint of Cointreau, a well-loved liqueur in the west of France that was first made a century and a half ago in the city of Angers. The Cointreau gives the filling a delicious aroma and an exotic flavor, because it is made from sweet orange peels from Spain and bitter orange peels from Caribbean Curacao. Finally, I topped my tart with sun-kissed, early-season strawberries, but truly in this one you could use any fruit of your choice: blackberries, plums, pluots, or even kumquats. I promise you that if you set aside a few hours in the glowing spring afternoon or weekend to make this orange blossom tart with strawberries, you will be so rewarded with a love letter to the season and a beautiful dessert to enjoy with family and friends.
Orange Blossom Cream Tart with Strawberries
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 10-12 minutes
Chill time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 9-inch tarts, or 8 miniature tarts
For the Pâte Sablée (tender tart dough):
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup +2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 hard-boiled egg yolk
- 2 egg yolks (raw)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¼ tsp salt
For the filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ tsp orange blossom water
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp Cointreau or orange-flavored liqueur
- ½ tsp Celtic salt
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
For the dough:
- Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with a whisk until smooth.
- Add the 2 raw egg yolks and vanilla extract into it, followed by the hard-boiled egg yolk. It is best if you add the hard-boiled egg yolk by pushing it through a sieve, so that you end up with a smooth mixture. Whisk well until blended.
- Add the cake flour and salt to the mixture, stirring well, and shape the dough into a ball.
- Flatten the dough into a disc. Place it on parchment paper and wrap it, placing it in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and shape it into a disc with the rolling pin. Press the dough into a 9-inch non-stick tart pan with a removable bottom. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the tart crust to prevent it from puffing up.
- Place the tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 additional minutes and, while chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the tart in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is a light brown color. Do not overbrown the crust. Remove the tart from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Set the tart aside until it is time to assemble the tart.
For the filling:
- Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high until it softens.
- Add the cane sugar, powdered sugar, orange blossom water, vanilla extract, Cointreau liqueur, and salt, and beat on medium high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Set aside.
- In another bowl, pour the heavy cream and whisk with an electric beater on high for 3 minutes, until it becomes fluffy and forms medium stiff peaks.
- Gently, using a rubber spatula, transfer the whipped cream to the stand mixer bowl where you have the cream cheese mixture and fold it in gently with sweeping motions.
- Fill the tart with the no-bake cheesecake filling, distributing it evenly with an offset spatula, or with the back of a spoon. Place the strawberry halves on top of the tart, arranging them as desired, and making sure that they are dry and are not transferring any of the liquid.
- Store the tart in the refrigerator and serve, preferably the same day or the day after.
© 2022 Carol’s Baking Adventures