Oh, January. You are a chilly month.
Yesterday we had the kind of snow that makes mighty tree limbs bow in submission. On days like this I’m perfectly content to spend long hours in an oven-warmed kitchen, and that’s just what I did. Many treats were made; some for the book and some for the blog. I’m still determining where some should reside. After much hemming and hawing about what to make for this entry, I decided to revisit an old recipe.
I made this tart for Thanksgiving 2 years ago, and at the time decided it was a little too heavy (or maybe I was just miserably full after turkey and dressing…I digress). This time, I used part skim ricotta for the filling and replaced the whole eggs with egg whites. What resulted is a light and fluffy filling that is beautifully pale and bespeckled with vanilla seeds.
I feel compelled to tell you that my husband asked for seconds. This man will emphatically ask “what is that?” as he peers over my shoulder at my latest confection. Let’s just say, he’s not a Matcha tea cheesecake kind of guy. But this, he loved.
(NOTE: For those interested, here’s my latest Pixiq article 5 ways to improve your food photography, for beginners.)
The mini fruits are painted with meringue powder diluted in a little water. I know many who use fresh egg whites for this, but I feel safer using something pasteurized.
It’s funny how I’ve gone from painting pictures to painting fruit! Life is weird and wonderful.
I’ve wanted to share my paintings with you for some time, but to be honest, most have been sold or given away. I found this painting of Mary I started over 10 years ago rolled up in the corner of my closet. Many paintings have since been completed, yet she remains an idea. Seeing her again makes me want to pick up a paintbrush and finally finish what I started. Who knows, in 2011, maybe I will!
White Ricotta Tart with Sugared Fruit
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Liberally butter a 11″ tart or quiche pan and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter pieces and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add yolk, vanilla and water. Pulse in quick bursts until dough forms a ball. Press dough into buttered pan (flour hands if your dough is sticky). Chill shell for 40 minutes.
After chilling, prick the tart shell with a fork and bake for 20 minutes. Let shell cool completely before filling.
4 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat or no fat, if you like)
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups part skim ricotta cheese
3 egg whites
1 vanilla bean, seeds reserved and hull discarded
Combine softened cream cheese, ricotta, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cream together with an electric hand mixer. Add egg whites and vanilla seeds. Mix at medium speed until combined. Pour into cooled tart crust and bake for 20 minutes.
1 tbsp manufactured meringue powder
1/2 tbsp hot water
Your choice of mini fruits, I used seckel pears, cranberries, crab-apples, and white raspberries.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Dissolve the meringue powder in hot water. Stir well until no lumps remain. Paint each fruit with a thin coating of the mixture and dip in granulated sugar. Allow sugared fruits to dry on a wire rack.
Decorate tart as desired.
NOTE: Find my recent “Skillet Snickerdoodle” recipe here in my Project 365 set on Flickr.