Saturday, October 23, 2010

Malted Vanilla Tart

This is a bit of a lazy recipe. I bought some cream cheese a month or two ago with vague ambitions of making danishes, but danishes only stay fresh for a day or two, and I doubt the capacity of my two-person household to consume an entire batch of danishes. I suppose I could be munificent and send the extras into my husband’s lab (as I often do with cookies), but I’m not sure they’d travel. Also, danishes sound like kind of a pain, and lately, I’ve been eschewing complicated, difficult recipes in favor of less convoluted alternatives.

This recipe includes a pastry crust, so it might not fall within most people’s definitions of “easy,” but I cannot emphasize enough the extent to which the art of making a pastry crust can be easily mastered with practice. I don’t even bother using ice water to bind the dough most of the time – I just use cold tap and am careful to be gentle when stirring.

So this isn’t the sort of recipe over which one ought to lose any sleep. However, the truly crust-averse among y0u could consider crushing chocolate graham crackers, adding a bit of butter, and using that for the tart’s bottom layer. I might have done so myself if I ever had graham crackers laying about my pantry.

But ought I bother? you might be thinking to yourself. Is it flavorful, this uncomplicated tart? I think it’s quite lovely. Its texture is somewhere between that of custard and cheesecake, and the flavors are simple, agreeable, and complementary. It’s not the most exciting thing to ever emerge from my oven, but husband and I polished it off with no difficulty. One would be hard-pressed to truly spoil a dessert combining the flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and malt.

Malted Vanilla Tart with Chocolate Crust

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon malted milk powder
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
¼ cup ice water (plus more if needed)

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup malted milk powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup half and half

Make crust: Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, malted milk powder, and sugar. Cut in butter using a pastry blender, fork, or your hands until incorporated in pea-sized pieces. Add water a tablespoon at a time until dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 425. Roll out crust and fit into 9” tart pan. I used the tart pan to mark a circle, cut away excess dough, and included only a “bottom” crust, like so:

Prick with the tines of a fork and blind bake for 10 minutes.

Remove crust from oven and lower heat to 375. Make tart filling: Using handheld beaters, blend together cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla, malted milk powder, salt, and half and half until smooth. Pour over crust and return to oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. Yield: 1 9” tart

Printable recipe here.

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