Friday, September 21, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 6: Kiwi Lime Cheesecake Tartlets

The aforementioned kiwis needed to be used up, and I also had cream cheese in my fridge. So, of course, a kiwi cheesecake was the perfect ending to this meal. I didn’t think kiwis would actually work in the cheesecake filling, so I decided to flavor the filling with lime and top off the cheesecake with the kiwis (which always make for a lovely presentation). 

The crust is a twist on a standard graham cracker crust for a cheesecake, and it’s the one I use for my Asian-inflected pumpkin pie, which is now my annual contribution to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner (although in recent years, I’ve been contributing most of the meal, too!)

I decided against a full cheesecake because I would have ended up eating the whole thing over the course of the week (clearly not a good thing), so I opted for little tartlets. I’m also a fan of individual desserts rather than a slice of something (although pie is one of my exceptions); I really like the presentation, and I think it’s more personal - it’s kind of nice to have an entire treat just for yourself, isn't it?

Kiwi Lime Cheesecake Tartlets
(makes 6 4-inch tartlets)

For the crust:
1.5 oz (approximately ½ cup + 1 tablespoon) walnuts or macadamia nuts*
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ cup + 1 tablespoon finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 whole crackers)
¼ cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of ½ lime
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled*
* if using macadamia nuts, reduce butter to 2 tablespoons – macadamia nuts have much more oil in them than walnuts

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese - at room temperature
1/6 cup EACH light brown and granulated sugar (pack 1/3 cup measuring cup halfway with light brown sugar, then top off with granulated sugar)
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
Dash of vanilla
½ egg (beat 1 egg very well and add half – about 2.5 tablespoons – to the filling mixture)
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons yogurt
Zest of ½ lime

For the topping:
3 kiwis, peeled and sliced into 1/8” thick rounds


Heat oven to 350° F. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Lightly toast the nuts by arranging them in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and heating on high power for 30-45 seconds – the nuts should be slightly fragrant. Let the nuts cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse with 2 tablespoons light brown sugar until the nuts are finely chopped. (If you are using macadamia nuts, be careful not to overprocess or the mixture will turn into a paste)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, light brown sugar, salt, and lime zest. Add the ground nuts and sugar and whisk to combine.

Pour in the melted butter and mix with your hands until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the crumb mixture.

Evenly distribute the crumb mixture between 6 four-inch tartlet pans with fluted edges (the bottoms do not need to be removable – the tartlets will easily turn out of the pans). Press most of the mixture onto the sides of the pans, making sure to press into the grooves of fluted edge and going all the way up the sides. Make an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.

Place the pans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
Remove the tartlet pans from the baking sheet and let them cool.
In a medium bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and beat with a mixer for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is smooth, thick, and free of lumps.
Put the pans with the baked crusts back on a baking sheet. Evenly distribute the filling mixture among the pans.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. The filling should be puffy and a very light golden yellow color.
Let the tarts cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
Remove the tarts from the fridge about a half hour before serving. Arrange the kiwi slices on top of the tartlets. Serve with mango puree (optional).


xiao zhu said...

what gorgeous plating! that crust looks delicious and buttery.

Meghan said...

lime... is my fave.... oh i just wish i had a tartlet pan.

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