Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just Peachy: Fresh Peach Cheesecake Tart

Fresh, perfectly ripe peaches, the juice of which dribbles freely down your chin as you eat them, are the ideal summer fruit.  Such perfume and flavor! No embellishment needed. But I couldn’t help

myself, as peaches are also lovely as the star ingredient in many desserts, including tarts. Because they are so flavorful, I like to pair them with a light cheesecake filling, as in this refreshing Peach 

Cheesecake Tart. I have left the peaches unpeeled, but if you prefer, you can peel them first. Just cut a cross in the bottom and blanch them for 30 seconds or so, and the skin will slip off. This tart is also great with a graham cracker crust. Top it off with some softly whipped cream. Just peachy!

Fresh Peach Cheesecake Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8

Tart Dough:
1 cup (121 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (28 g) cake flour
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons ice water

Cheesecake Filling:
¾ cup whole milk, divided
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 ½ ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sour cream

Peach Topping:
2 large ripe yellow peaches, unpeeled, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup apricot preserves

Make the tart dough:
1. Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and shortening and toss lightly with a spoon to coat them with flour. Blend the fat and flour with about five 1-second pulses or until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some of the butter pieces the size of peas. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process continuously until the dough begins to clump together.  Do not over-process; the dough should not form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick 4-inch wide disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes.
2. Place unwrapped dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, lifting and rotating the dough often, while dusting the work suface and dough lightly with flour as necessary. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll the pin over the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Refrigerate the dough in the pan for 20 minutes to firm up the dough. (If you like, roll out the dough scraps and cut them into small flower shapes. Brush them with eggwash, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 7-8 minutes. These can be used to garnish the tart.)
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Right before baking, line the dough with aluminum foil or parchment paper and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully lift the foil (along with the weights) out of the tart pan and bake the crust for 10 minutes longer. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the filling:
4. Place 1/4 cup of the milk in a small container. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and set aside to soften.
5. Place the remaining 1/2 cup milk, the sugar, and cream cheese in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in lemon zest and vanilla and cool to room temperature.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the cream and sour cream at high speed until the mixture just begins to form soft peaks. Add the cooled cream cheese mixture at low speed. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the mixture is well blended and smooth. Scrape the filling into the prepared pan, over the crust, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until set.

Prepare the topping:
7. Cut each peach half into 1/2-inch wedges and toss them with the lemon juice, then the honey. Arrange the wedges over the cheesecake filling, overlapping them in concentric circles and covering the top completely.
8. Place the apricot preserves in a glass measure and heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds, until bubbling. Scrape the hot preserves into a fine mesh sieve set over a small bowl and push down on them with a rubber spatula to strain out the solids. Brush the stained glaze over the peach slices. Garnish with reserved pastry flowers.