Assembling the TartSadly, strawberry season is beginning to wane here in northern California; however, the news is not all bad as the raspberries and cherries are ripening in my garden. This delicious recipe for Organic Strawberry Almond Cream Cheese Tart came from my friend Laura. Our town hosts a good old-fashioned pie auction every spring to raise money for our community council. Laura made this tart one year, and it sold for almost $200 at the pie auction. Fortunately, a friend bought it, so I was able to try a piece and begged Laura for the recipe. This Organic Strawberry Almond Cream Cheese Tart is amazing, with just the right combinations of ingredients. The tart is light, using very little sugar and fresh strawberries. My tarts never turn out as beautiful as Laura’s high priced one, but the taste is one I look forward to every strawberry season. This recipe is modified from one published in Cooking Light magazine.
Of course, bakers should use organic ingredients to make this recipe pesticide free! I use organic Sucanat , which stands for Sugar Cane Natural, for all my baking. Sucanat is Fair Trade certified from Costa Rica and is made by crushing sugar cane, extracting and heating the juice, then hand paddling the juice until it dries into porous granules. Unlike refined sugars, Sucanat retains many vitamins and minerals present in sugar cane, such as iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, and chromium.
Strawberry Almond Cream Cheese Tart
9 sheets graham crackers
2 tablespoons Sucanat (or other granulated sugar)
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Crumble graham crackers by hand or in a food processor. Add sugar, melted butter, and water. Mix/pulse until just moist. Butter or oil a tart pan (or pie plate if you don’t have one) and press graham cracker mixture into the pan to form a crust. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned and cool completely.
2/3 cup light cream cheese
1/4 cup Sucanat (sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine cream cheese, sucanat, and extracts in a medium bowl until smooth. Spread the mixture onto the bottom of the cooled graham cracker crust.
6 cups strawberries
2/3 cup Sucanat (sugar)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (you can toast these for added flavor)
Yum, Strawberry Almond Cream Cheese TartTo prepare topping sauce, puree 2 cups of strawberries in a food processor, blender, or by hand. It is best to cull the strawberries for the glaze sauce, leaving the prettiest, most uniform strawberries for the actual tart topping. Add Sucanat and corn starch to pureed strawberries in a pan, and heat over medium high heat while whisking. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to low heat for a minute (keep stirring!). Let the sauce cool completely, while stirring occasionally. You can halve the topping recipe, as it makes twice as much as needed. However, I like to freeze the extra sauce for the next time I make the pie or to serve of organic vanilla ice cream.
With the remaining four cups of strawberries, combine with lemon juice and toss. Arrange the berries bottoms up in a circular, spiral fashion over the cream cheese filling. Spoon half of the cooled glaze topping over the strawberries (freeze the other half), then sprinkle the almonds around the outside edge of the tart. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving. We sometimes cool our tarts quickly in the freezer, but you do have to be careful and watch that the tart doesn’t freeze.