Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
This tart from Nick Malgieri's _Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking_ (http://amzn.to/mEWjeu) keeps the crumb topping crisp by baking it separately, then adding it on top of the creamy filling. Adapted from a recipe by Nick Malgieri at Serious Eats. http://bit.ly/lU1Tlu (Crust recipe at http://bit.ly/l0dCc8 )
- 1⁄2 ounce slivered almonds (2 tbsp) or 1⁄2 ounce whole blanched almond (2 tbsp)
- 1 1⁄2 ounces confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring (3/8 cup)
- 5 1⁄4 ounces all-purpose flour (by volume, 1 1/4 cups, spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces (1 stick)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Almond Crumb Topping
- 7 ounces all-purpose flour (by volume, 1 1/2 cups, spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 2 1⁄2 ounces sugar (1/3 cup)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ounce slivered almonds (1/4 cup) or 1 ounce whole blanched almond, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1/4 cup)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 lb cream cheese, softened
- 1⁄4 lb confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring (1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 lb strawberry, rinsed, hulled and cut into small-bite-sized pieces (about 1 1/2 pints, reserving one perfect berry for garnish)
- Combine the almonds and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. No visible pieces of almond should remain. Use a thin metal spatula to scrape away any of the mixture caked up in the corner where the bottom meets the side of the bowl.
- Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain. Add the yolks and vanilla and pulse again until the dough forms a ball.
- Invert the dough to a floured surface and carefully remove the blade. Shape the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
- Remove one of the pieces of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at a cool room temperature for about 20 minutes, just until it is soft enough to roll without cracking, but still firm. Unwrap it and place it on a floured surface. Use the palm of your hand to press it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
- Flour the work surface and the dough and gently roll the dough into a 13-inch disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed.
- Fold the dough in half and slide both hands under it, palms upward, and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough into the pan. Don’t be concerned if the dough cracks or tears—you can press it back together.
- Evenly fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against both the bottom and side of the pan. Trim away any excess dough at the rim of the pan by rolling over with a rolling pin or scraping it away with the back of a paring knife.
- Finish off the top edges of the crust by pressing outward against the side of the pan with your thumb and down at the same time at the top of the crust with your index finger.
- Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F Place racks at upper third and lower third.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the almonds. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the butter. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes, then use your fingertips to break the mixture into 1/4- to 1/2-inch crumbs. Scatter the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat.
- Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator. Place a piece of parchment paper in the tart shell and fill with beans or pie weights. Place the tart shell in the lower third of the oven and place the pan of crumb topping in the upper third. After 10 minutes, remove the paper and beans from the tart shell and place it on the upper rack and the crumbs on the lower one. Continue baking the tart shell until it is dry and light golden, 15 to 20 additional minutes. Bake the crumb topping until it is deep golden and firm, 10 to 15 additional minutes (i.e. the crumbs should be done about 5 minutes before the shell).
- Cool the crust and the topping on racks. If the crumbs have clumped together during baking, let them cool completely and then use a bench scraper or table knife to chop them coarsely.
- While they are cooling, place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed just until it is smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.
- To assemble the tart, spread half the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the berries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the berries. Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, lightly dust the topping with confectioners’ sugar and place the reserved berry in the center of the tart.
- Serving: Unmold the tart and slide it off the pan base to a platter. Serve wedges of the tart—it needs no accompaniment.
- Storage: You may have all the components ready, but don’t assemble the tart until a few hours before you intend to serve it. Keep it at a cool room temperature until you do. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers and bring to room temperature before serving again. The crust will soften after it has been refrigerated.