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August 31, 2017

Strawberry Cheesecake Tart

It's a big weekend for baking! Between Labor Day barbecues, tailgating for the first football game, and all my friends that heard I'm back in town, I have a lot on my plate (literally). Luckily, I have this recipe for a gorgeous tart that just so happens to be Badger red and can easily be adapted for Labor Day red, white, and blue. The cheesecake filling is rich and creamy, and the fresh berries on top make it the perfect centerpiece for any party.


For all you cheesecake purists, yes this recipe is a bit different. I use a sweet pie crust instead of a traditional graham cracker crust and there's obviously a difference in size. I like to think of this as a benefit, though, since by baking only a thin layer of cheesecake your baking time is drastically reduced. Instead of going through all the effort of a water bath and waiting at least an hour, your tart is perfectly baked and ready to go in less than 20 minutes. You still have to chill it for a bit like any good cheesecake, but you're that much closer to cheesecake heaven.


You can easily swap out the pie crust for a graham cracker crust, but I think the buttery, flaky crust does a better job of supporting the cheesecake and all those berries. I'm a sucker for a good pie crust, so maybe I'm just biased, but I also think that it makes the tart more similar to all the gorgeous fruit pies of the summer.


The cheesecake filling is pretty simple, not much different than your typical cheesecake aside from being scaled down a bit. There's cream cheese, of course, as well as sugar, vanilla, and an egg. One egg may not sound like much, but it's enough to bind everything together in this amount of filling. I also add a few dollops of sour cream for a hint of tang and to lighten it up. You can add other flavors here as well; orange zest would pair well with berries, as would most other citruses.


The trick to a perfect cheesecake is in the baking time. As I quickly learned when making my first cheesecake a few years ago, this is not one of those times where you're waiting on a clean toothpick. The doneness is better judged by the jiggle test: when the cheesecake is just barely set and only has a slight jiggle in the middle, it's done. Cheesecake also sets up better when you chill it for a couple hours after letting it cool on the counter.


The final touch for me is a layer of sliced strawberries. We're nearing the end of berry season and everything on campus is red for welcome week and football, so I'm all about the strawberries. If you're making this for labor day, you can also throw in some blueberries for a more patriotic look. Peaches would also be delicious, and you can adapt this for year-round enjoyment with whatever fruit is in season. I've found that roasting fruit brings out its natural sweetness, so even in the dead of winter, you can have a gorgeous cheesecake tart with delicious fruit on top.

1 Recipe Sweet Crust
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg
1 lb Strawberries, Sliced

Heat oven to 375ºF and grease a 9-11" round tart pan.

Blind bake the crust in the prepared pan.

Lower the oven to 325F.

Beat the cream cheese and sour cream until fluffy. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat in the egg, then pour into the crust. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until just set.

When cool, layer the sliced strawberries on top.

Serves 8

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