Cheesecake Fruit Flans

Cheesecake Fruit Flans

Cheesecake Fruit Flans
These are very versatile and easy to make – even better they can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a special meal or indulgent dessert at a moment's notice.  I used to make these tarts with a custard filling, however the heavy cream was just a bit much.  I prefer the lightness of this creamy cheese filling... 

The filling is a basic light cheesecake mix whipped into a sort of mousse, topped with fruit and an elderberry jelly.  By making this with reduced fat cream cheese it is not as rich, much fluffier and the taste of the fruit dominates the cheese – if you prefer a richer filling use the full fat cream cheese.

My favourite bit is the macadamia pastry shell though, which adds flavour as well as structure to the little tarts.
If you are not a fan of gelatine – agar agar works just as well!

Macadamia Nut Flaky Pastry
220 grams plain flour
55 grams icing sugar
100 grams macadamia nuts ground to a paste (just place whole macadamias in a blender and blitz til smooth)
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt

Cheesecake Fruit FlansFor the Filling:
250 grams reduced fat  cream cheese, whipped until smooth
200mls cream, whipped to soft peaks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
Pinch of nutmeg
Juice and zest of a lemon
3 teaspoons gelatine (or gelatine leaves) dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of hot water and combined with 2-3 tablespoons elderflower cordial or St Germain Liqueur

Pre-heat oven to 200°C.

To make the pastry:
Place flour, icing sugar, macadamia paste meal and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. If you are not using a food processor, just combine the ingredients with a cold knife, cutting through until crumbly.
Add the egg yolk and mix until the dough just comes together. Knead gently and briefly on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball, flatten into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line 24cm round loose-based tart tin or to cut into discs for mini tarts. Lift pastry into tin/s, ease into base and sides. Trim off any excess pastry. Refrigerate 30 minutes. (At this stage, I usually like to cover the pastry with plastic wrap and freeze it overnight. I find that baking the pastry when it’s completely frozen helps minimize shrinkage.)

Place tart tins on baking tray. Line the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and pour in dried beans or rice. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove paper and beans/rice. Lightly brush the pastry shell with egg white to seal. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until light golden. Set aside to cool.
Once completely cold, you are ready to fill!

For the Filling:
Combine the cream cheese with the vanilla bean seeds, nutmeg, lemon and sugar and whip well.  If desired, add an extra tablespoon of elderflower cordial to the cream cheese mixture – or even better, a couple of tablespoons of St Germain Liqueur.
To make the jelly, dissolve your gelatine in a little boiling water, then add the elderflower cordial.  Elderberry/elderflower cordial is a great addition to jelly as it has a wonderful floral scent and gorgeous flavour with the benefit of being completely colourless, so it does not spoil your pretty tart. 

Add half the dissolved gelatine with elderberry cordial and if you have a little extra vanilla it adds lovely little dots of vanilla through the jelly.  Whisk it in well to ensure it is evenly distributed.  Fold through the cream then spoon the mixture into the prepared tarts.
Add slices of peach and fresh blueberries – or any seasonal fruit.  Use the remaining gelatine mixture to brush over the fruit to ensure it is shiny and held in position by the jelly.

If you want to enhance the fruit flavours add a tiny pinch of salt and a few rosemary stalks or flowers just as you serve them – it sounds odd, but the resin depth of the rosemary coupled with a little salt truly enhances  the creamy cheese filling and the tart and sweet soft fruits.
Allow to set for at least 3 hours, over night if possible before serving with a swirl of cream, a little berry syrup or a scoop of icecream.

 

 Cheesecake Fruit Flans