strawberry-almond cream tart

At an intersection just down from my neighborhood, there is a white canopy-style tent set up on the side of the road. The tent is the home of a fruit and vegetable stand, and, while it probably should be a temporary thing (city ordinances and all that), the fruit stand and the guy running it are always there. Pretty much every day. He usually sells Plant City strawberries, and occasionally the sign will read “beefstake tomatoes.” I never buy the tomatoes, mostly because I’m perpetually annoyed that he can’t spell beefsteak. I do buy the strawberries, however.

strawberry almond cream tart

Plant City is in Hillsborough County, about 25 miles east of Tampa. Plant City is most known for strawberries, and there is a big festival each year – the Florida Strawberry Festival – honoring and celebrating that fact. And those strawberries are good. Really, really good.

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So, since we’re overrun with fresh strawberries, I decided to put some to use. And, since I try to at least consider eating healthy (whether or not it actually ends up happening), I pulled a recipe from one of my favorite food magazines – Cooking Light. It was also a great chance to try out my new tart pan.

The crust is a graham cracker crust, and I followed the recipe instructions exactly. However, when I poured it into the tart pan and pressed the graham cracker mixture into place, there were some bare spots in the pan. It was easy to fix. I made another batch of the crust and just used what I needed to fill in the holes.

graham cracker crust

I also used the light cream cheese called for in the recipe. You could use regular cream cheese, but honestly? I don’t think you need to. It was plenty rich and creamy without the extra fat from regular cream cheese.

The strawberry puree glaze was wonderful, and the recipe actually makes about twice as much as is needed for the tart. I saved half of the glaze with the intention of using it over ice cream, or perhaps stirred in some steel cut oats.

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The strawberry-almond cream tart was so delicious that it’s easy to forget that it’s relatively healthy. It took us a handful of days, but the four of us managed to polish it off without too much difficulty.

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Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart

This recipe makes a thin crust. Feel free to double the crust ingredients to modify the thickness of the crust to your liking.

Ingredients:

Crust:

36 honey graham crackers (about 9 sheets)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons water
Cooking spray

Filling:

8 oz light cream cheese, softened (or feel free to use regular if that's your preference)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Topping:

6 cups fresh strawberries, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare crust, process crackers in a food processor until crumbly. Add the sugar, butter, and water; pulse until just moist. Place mixture in a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Press mixture into bottom and up the sides to about 3/4 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla and almond extracts in a bowl; stir until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor; process until pureed. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine 4 cups strawberries and lemon juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of the glaze over the berries (reserve the remaining glaze for another use). Sprinkle the sliced almonds around the edge of the tart. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

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12 Responses to “finding balance and a blueberry buttermilk tart”

  1. Macaroni Mama — April 27, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

    It warms my heart that your children associate baking with love, warmth, and hugs. We won’t take up much of your time this weekend for this very reason. XXXOOO

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 7:37 am

      Any time we spend with you is time well spent, Mom. You and Dad are our priority, too!

  2. Liren — April 27, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    That balance that we all aim to achieve is definitely more challenging at times than others. Thank goodness for baking, it really is a comforting therapy. I know a slice of this tart would bring peace and satisfaction. Hope this weekend brings more time with the kids in the kitchen.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 7:38 am

      Thank you, Liren. Yes, baking is such a great thing, especially when I can do it with the kids.

  3. Thyme (Sarah) — April 28, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    Your words hit the spot with me. I am the complete opposite of your world but the same in so many ways. I am a stay at home mom with 2 teens (one off to college in the fall) and I have homeschooled for the past 6 years. That “guilt” word often has me analyzing my decisions off and on. Yesterday was one of those days. I clenched my hair yesterday and yelled “I can’t take 3 more years of school!!” and…”I’m not even getting paid!!” I felt horrible after that and spent the rest of the day in shame. Apologies went around. I follow your blog andy you are doing the best job! Good luck with everything!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 28th, 2012 @ 10:00 am

      Guilt really can get the best of us, right? I think the work-life balance challenge holds true whether your work is outside the home or INSIDE the home, as yours is. And thank you for being a reader — I’m so glad you’re here!

  4. Beth (OMG! Yummy) — April 28, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Nice post Merry-Jennifer – so honest and revealing in a conversation starting, endearing way. Guilt pervades my life and I’m Jewish, so it’s a long-standing joke in the family too. As for the balance, I commented on Twitter to Rebecca Subbiah yesterday that I take life one hour at a time these days – a whole day overwhelms me. Since I’ve become determined to reinvent a career for myself while still managing a complicated household, I’ve both improved the balance and thrown it way off. But I remain determined to forge ahead and hope that the decisions I make hourly are for the most part, good ones.

    Love that your kids want to bake with you – that is a priceless memory that will stay with them forever. The fact that you are mentally or physically gone occasionally will, on the other hand, melt away.

  5. Paula — April 29, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    Your parents, friends, co-workers, patients, spouse and especially your children are so very blessed to have you in their lives and so cognizant of their needs. Guilt always invades our thoughts when time for everyone seems at a minimum. When your children go to sleep each night they know that they are loved so every second that you spend with them or do for them, while to you may never seem enough, really and truly is.

  6. Amy — May 2, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    It seems I will never fully master the art of balance. But I’m trying.

    I want this now. For breakfast. ; )

  7. Tickled Red — May 18, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    Sometimes I come across a post after it has been written and I realize now that it’s for a reason. I need to read this today because the past month and a half has been topsy turvy for me. My balance had been whipped off the map. Love this post!! And yes baking does seem to do just that ;D

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