Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Tart

May 1, 2012

Chocolate and strawberries are one of my favorite dessert combinations, which I usually enjoy in the form of chocolate-covered strawberries. So when a reader asked me to convert her mother's recipe for chocolate strawberry cheesecake tart, I lept at the chance. (And wondered why I'd never made a chocolate berry tart before!)

Although I hesitate to call this a quick dessert, it does come together rather quickly for a fruit tart. You make the chocolate-almond tart dough in a food processor in just minutes. And like the savory tart recipe we made recently, the dough gets pressed into the pan before chilling unlike traditional tart doughs that are chilled for several hours before being rolled out and put into a pan.

Preparing the New York cheesecake-like filling is the only step that requires a little time and special attention. Like a good cheesecake, the filling should be smooth and creamy, not lumpy and dry. To achieve a smooth cheesecake filling you need three things:

  1. Room temperature cream cheese. Cold cream cheese leaves little lumps in the filling that don't bake out. Soft, room temperature cream cheese, however, blends easily with sugar and eggs to create a smooth, satiny batter.

  2. Gentle mixing. If you cream together room temperature cream cheese and sugar on high speed, air bubbles get beaten into the filling. This trapped air pops during baking and leaves little pockets in the finished tart. To avoid this, mix the cream cheese and sugar on medium-low speed. At first, the mixture should resemble a thick paste--not a fluffy icing. (If you do overmix and trap air in the batter, tap the bowl of filling on the counter several times. The air bubbles will rise to the top of the batter and pop.)

  3. A "clean" bowl. As you mix, the cheesecake batter gets lighter. And since cream cheese loves to cling to the paddle attachment and the bowl, it's important to stop the mixer and scrape them down frequently during mixing. If you don't, the dense, unmixed, "stuck" cream cheese can break away from the bowl or paddle and create lumps in the light batter. By stopping the mixer and scraping everything down with a rubber spatula, this won't happen.
For the Crust

1 cup (about 4 ounces) white rice flour
1/2 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) natural cocoa powder
1/2 cup (about 1.75 ounces) ground almond flour
1/3 cup (about 2.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, sliced into 8 pieces
1/4 cup milk
For the Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice from one lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
1/4 cup strawberry jam

  1. For the Crust: In bowl of food processor, combine white rice flour, cocoa powder, almond flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter. Pulse until no large pieces of butter remain, about eight 1-second pulses. Add milk. Run food processor until dough comes together, 5 to 10 seconds.


  2. Lightly spray an 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Pinch off one-tablespoon pieces of dough. Place dough balls, about 1/2 inch apart, around edge of pan. Place remaining dough balls into center of pan, also spaced about 1/2-inch apart. Using your hand, press dough into bottom of pan. Then press dough around edge to form a crust. Use a measuring cup to press dough firmly into pan. Trim excess dough from edges using a sharp knife. Prick bottom of dough with fork.


  3. Lightly cover pan with plastic wrap and freeze tart for 45 minutes. While tart chills, adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F.

  4. Remove plastic wrap from tart shell and bake until aromatic and set, about 25 minutes. Place tart on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.


  5. For the Filling: In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese and granulated sugar on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Stop mixer. Scrape down paddle attachment and bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add lemon juice. Mix on medium-low speed, until lemon juice is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer. Scrape down paddle attachment and bottom and sides of bowl. Turn mixer to medium-low, add eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding next. Stop mixer and scrape down paddle and bowl. Turn mixer back on medium-low and blend until smooth and almost shiny, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared tart shell.


  6. Bake tart until filling is golden brown, about 30 minutes. FIlling might puff up. This is normal. It will sink down as it cools. Allow tart to cool on a wire rack. Cool tart at least three hours before topping with sliced strawberries. Starting at the outside, arrange the strawberry slices in concentric circles. Warm jam in microwave until liquified but not boiling. Glaze tart with warm jam using a pastry brush. Serve the tart chilled or at room temperature. Store leftover tart in the refrigerator for up to three days.


Serves 8-10

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