Guest Author - Chidori Phillips
Dessert is a relatively new concept to Japanese cuisine. Sweets, or wagashi, are based mostly upon sweetened beans and rice and are still considered special event or ceremonial offerings. They are not served as a final course as in Western cuisine. In fact, there is no Japanese word for dessert. Instead, it borrows the American word dessert and applies a Japanese accent: dezetto. Desserts tend to be yoshoku or Western-influenced recipes like this one.
Bake these mini or small tart shells with the cream cheese filling and then top with fresh fruit after baking. Use small, fresh, whole or cut berries or canned mandarin oranges. Garnish with a sprig of mint and youíll have a rainbow of colors that will look pretty.
If you donít have mini or small tart shell pans, you can use muffin tins or one larger individual tart shell pan but youíll need to adjust the baking time.
Because these tart shells are so easy and delicious, youíll want to use them for other recipes as well. You can bake them blind (unfilled) and let them cool before filling with pastry cream, whipped cream, pudding or even ice cream for endless creative desserts!
Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts
For tart shells:
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
Blend together the cream cheese and butter. Add flour and mix well. Form into a large flat oval, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or until well chilled. Pinch off small balls of dough press into the depressions of a tiny tart shell pan. Usually, the pan comes with a wooden dowel with a knobbed end. Push that into the ball of dough to form a nice shaped crust. Alternatively, you can use a muffin tin or one larger tart pan.
Fill with cream cheese filling and bake as directed. OR, bake blind (unfilled) in a 325 degree F. oven for about 10-12 minutes or until very light golden color.
For cream cheese filling:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla and blend until creamy. Pour into tart shells. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-35 minutes, depending on the size of the tart shells. If baking tiny tart shells with unbaked crusts, bake for 15 minutes. A whole, large tart pan will take 30-35 minutes.