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Author Notes: When I was in school, my hands-down favorite dessert we made was carrot cupcakes. And we did (or in my case, tried to do) some pretty fancy things. But these carrot cupcakes were amazing, and always a hit. Once the cupcakes cooled from the oven, they were covered with a thin cream cheese icing, and then the icing was piped in a donut-ring, leaving a 1" hole in the middle. A dollop of caramel was dropped into the donut-hole. The combination of carrot, cinnamon, sugar, cream cheese and caramel was never matched for me in anything else we did. So this week, I wanted to try to reinvent those cupcakes in the form of a tart. The crust is a combination of flour and ground up ginger cookies with some butter. If I weren't so allergic to nuts, I'd add ground up walnuts to the crust - and heartily recommend it. Before filling the tart shells with the carrot creamcheese batter, I put a layer of golden raisins on the bottom of each shell. The carrot cheesecake, once baked and cooled, is topped with a caramel lattice, a small piped creamcheesey rose, and a sliver of candied carrot. I was just barely able to share a small tart with my husband... —TheWimpyVegetarian
Makes 6 tartlets or 1 large tart
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, partially frozen
- 3 ounces all-purpose flour
- 3 ounces finely ground up ginger snap cookies
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Place the flour and ground up ginger snaps with the salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times to evenly distribute the salt in the flour mixture. Add the butter all at once and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the water and cider vinegar and pulse again just until the dough starts to come together when you pinch it.
- Form the dough into a disk on a cool work surface using only your fingers. Try not to use the palm of your hand. Wrap it up in wax paper or plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- On a lightly floured cool surface, roll the tart dough out to 1/8" thickness and carefully line the tartlet molds, gently pushing the dough into the cavities of the mold with the floured round handle of a wooden spoon.
- Chill until ready to use.
Carrot Creamcheese Tart Filling, Caramel, and Candied Carrots
- CARROT CHEESECAKE FILLING
- 8 ounces carrots
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup fine sugar
- zest and juice from 1 tangerine (about 2 tablespoons of juice)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- pinch salt
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- CANDIED CARROT STRIPS
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- juice from 1 tangerine
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel and slice the carrots and place in a skillet with water. Bring to a boil and cook until carrots are very tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and puree until very smooth with a food processor or blender. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the cream cheese, creme fraiche, heavy cream and sugar and beat until the mixture is very smooth. Add the pureed carrots, vanilla extract, tangerine juice and zest, and cinnamon. Continue to mix until smooth. Add the eggs and a pinch of salt. Mix until very smooth.
- Divide the raisins between the tart molds and scatter across the tart bottoms. Pour the cream cheese batter on top. Bake tartlets for 30 minutes or until the centers firm up. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the tart molds. Allow to completely cool before drizzling on the caramel.
- Preheat the oven to 200F. To make THE CANDIED CARROT STRIPS: With a vegetable peeler, peel long thin strips from a single carrot. Bring the rest of the Candied Carrot Strip ingredients to a boil in a shallow pan. Boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the thin carrot strips and simmer until the strips become transluscent (about 10 - 15 minutes). They are now candied. Remove to a drying rack, retaining the candying syrup. To dry them for the cheesecake topping, I dried them on a rack in my toasteroven for 20 minutes or until just slightly tacky. Sprinkle with a little fine sugar and toss. These can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.
- To make the CARAMEL: Add the sugar to the syrup from the candying of the carrots. Reheat. When the sugar has completely dissolved, boil for 20-30 seconds to get the syrup the degree of caramelization you want. Remove from the heat and immediately add the butter and cream, stirring rapidly. Allow to cool before drizzling on the cheesecake tarts. The caramel can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Note: I added a piped flower to place the candied carrot. To make this I whipped 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream until softly whipped. I then added 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1 teaspoon fine sugar and continued to whip until it was firm. I was now ready for piping.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)