My Mother's Cheese Tarts

By Jr0717
April 20, 2018
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Author Notes: The trick to perfection in this recipe is that there is no trick. It's forgiving, embracing the crackly, golden brown, sunken (on purpose!) tops that emerge from the oven with a faint, delicate vanilla tang; and it's versatile, indiscriminately holding whatever fruit or crazy concoction you ask it to cradle on top, supporting it without judgment as a flavorful vehicle for your desires. And its always a simple, understated showstopper. I promise.

*Note: My mother swears by Philly cream cheese, and in my frugal college days I made them, quickly discarding evidence of generic brand dairy, and she tasted the difference! Witchcraft! So it's your choice on the dairy, but you've been warned.
Jr0717

Makes: 15 individual tarts

  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3.5 tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (see Note above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (or more affectionately, 'a blop')
  • 2 cups fruit filling of your choice, be it canned (which was the classic go-to for my family) or fresh (my more modern preference)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Melt the butter, and combine with the graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Crumbs should be moist, but not saturated or packed. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each liner, and pat down with the back of the spoon to create a crust (I like to use a pestle to make sure I get the edges). Chill while making the filling.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and broken up, and slowly add the remaining ingredients until combined into a smooth, pale, consistent batter.
  4. Divide the batter evenly amongst the 24 cups (don't fill them more than three-quarters of the way) and bake until slightly golden brown on top. They will look slightly dry and may already have begun to sinking crack a little.
  5. Allow the tarts to cool completely before topping with your favorite fruit. Cherry is a classic in our house, but feel free to switch it up! Apples! Berries! Whipped cream! (But only if you lick the bowl after making the cream. My mother demands it.)

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