It’s winter. Not the depths of winter, technically, but we are supposed to get a foot of snow in three short days, so here in Baltimore, we are IN IT.
I love winter. It’s annoyingly true. While others grumble about snow days and kids staying home, I like nothing better than to have The Teenager all to myself for the day. Last year at the height of the storm during the Blizzard That Shut Down Baltimore we hiked down to Golden West for the Lisa Marie (a pancake with a strip of bacon fried in it, topped with peanut butter butter – not a typo, a real thing -and served with maple syrup), plus hashbrowns for good measure. We let the dogs run up and down the alley, off leash, until they found a kitty and chased it, then we made snow angels in the middle of the road.
So snow days are my thing.
Especially when you have this just lying around in your cabinet:
This is a jar of epic, three-day organic lemon marmalade that I made last week. It is tart and sweet and faintly bitter from the pith that gives it the pectin to set up all by itself.
I have five of these. That’s a lot for two people to eat, one of whom doesn’t actually like lemon marmalade. Logical choice, for me, is a lemon cream cheese tart. Individual tarts because a whole tart is too much but maybe individual ones will be more manageable.
An easy, gluten-free pie crust, a luscious, creamy, whipped cream and cream cheese filling, and a thin layer of juicy lemon marmalade. Drizzling it with chocolate may be overkill, but I am going there.
Come with me.
Cream Cheese Tarts With Lemon Marmalade
5 tablespoons butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 room temperature egg
1 cup AP flour (I used gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth. Add egg and incorporate thoroughly. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and then add into the wet mixture a little at a time until it is just mixed. Shape dough into a ball, then wrap in plastic and flatten. Pop in the ‘fridge and chill for an hour.
When it’s chilled, remove from ‘fridge and flour your work surface. Turn out dough and roll until it is between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick (I use a wine bottle to roll, but I suppose a regular old rolling pin would work as well). For individual tarts, you could rush out and spend lots of cash on individual tart pans, or you could grab some wide-mouthed Mason jar lids and flip the lid so the metal faces up in the center of the ring (instead the white underside).
Place your tart dough in the lid, pressing lightly into and up the sides of the ring. Make sure you make your dough circles just a bit wider than the ring so that there is enough dough to go all the way up to the top of the metal ring.
This recipe made eight of the wide-mouthed lids and three of the regular lids. Perfect if you have small children who need an even smaller tart. Chill in the freezer for half an hour (wrap lightly in plastic wrap).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake mini crusts until lightly browned and dry, about 15 minutes (about 30 minutes for a full-sized tart). Keep an eye on them. If they start to bubble up, you can prick them lightly with a fork, or you can line each crust with aluminum foil and use pie weights to prevent bubbling (or just use rice. I use the same rice over and over. I let the rice cool after each use then store it in a jar for the next time. This lasts indefinitely, or until you move and decide to throw it out.). Your crust should be a lovely golden brown color. If you are using pie weights or rice, remove them in the last few minutes so the whole crust can brown.
Let crusts cool completely while you make the filling.
1 8-ounce bar of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of whipping cream, whipped until it forms peaks
optional: 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and one tablespoon of sugar to add to whipping cream
Cream the cream cheese and the sugar together until fully mixed. Whip the whipping cream (and optional sugar and vanilla extract) in a separate bowl until the cream forms stiff peaks. Beat the cream cheese and the whipped cream together. Spoon into cooled crusts and chill for at least an hour.
Top with your topping of choice and chill for another 30 minutes. I am using lemon marmalade, about a tablespoon per tart, but guess what? Jam of any sort would be delicious, or slather the tops with hot fudge sauce. If you do that, be sure and finish with a bit of fleur de sels.
To serve, unmold from the Mason jar rings. You should be able to slide the tart off the lid, but if not, serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, a smile, and a strong cup of black coffee.
Spring is just around the corner.