July 31, 2011

Blackberry Cheesecake Tarts

If you haven't figured out by now, I have a bit of a sweet tooth that is just barely reigned in day after day (and on some days not at all).  Being health-conscious and having a sweet tooth is generally a tough juggling act.  Sort of like being a mini-version of Sybil, minus a few personalities.  I am of the opinion though that you should be able to have your dessert, and eat it too...without having to skip dinner for the privilege.  My recipe for blackberry goat cheese tarts, which I am oh so happy to share, is a perfect medley of good-for-you and deliciousness...in some very sensible (not to mention kind of endearing) portion sizes.  So go ahead and eat dinner for Heaven's sake...and make sure you save just a little room for one or two of these little gems.

I love berries and try to find what looks best in the markets from week to week when they are at the height of their respective seasons.  If you are blessed enough to have some growing in your garden (I am so jealous), even better!  This tart is high in protein due to the goat cheese and the eggs in the filling, and to the nuts and egg yolk in the crust, and is bursting with the flavor of summer thanks to the beautifully ripe blackberries.  Whole wheat pastry flour is used in the crust to help bind all the ingredients and to provided a complimentary nuttiness of flavor while imparting all those wonderful whole wheat health benefits.  So simple, yet just right, especially this time of year when those heavier desserts just seem, well, too heavy.  

Goat cheese is a wonderful substitution for cream cheese and is great for baking.  The flavor is nearly identical but I find the texture lighter, which I think works perfectly with fruit--not too overpowering or cloying, which lets the flavor or the fruit shine through and be the star it should.  It is also all natural and 100% cheese, no other strange or questionable ingredients, which appeals to my inner hippie.  You can find goat cheese just about everywhere these days, and it is available at a very reasonable price at the big warehouse stores.  I found mine at the local Whole Foods for pennies more than I would've spend on traditional cream cheese.  The texture contrasts work so well in this recipe.  The berries retain some body, the goat cheese mixture is smooth and creamy, and the nut crust finishes off everything with some toothy chew and crunch.

Special desserts don't always have to be complicated, and I think that is what's nice about this recipe.  It is so easy to throw together, and bakes up in a flash, while still being special.  You'll probably spend more time getting them out of the pan, glazing and decorating them then you will getting them in the oven (especially if you forget to grease the pan like I did, grrrr)!

The glaze is certainly optional, or you could just pop open a jar of preserves and warm that up instead.  I had quite a few extra berries and decided to boil them down into a glaze.  I couldn't refrain from adding a touch of rose water, but that is really very optional and could be left out entirely.  I drizzled just a little bit on each berry to add some shine and another layer of flavor, but also to give the zest something to hold onto.  Add as little or as much as you would like.

I have strained out the seeds when making this glaze in the past, but thought I would leave them in this time for some added texture and interest.  You can strain them out with a fine mesh sieve if you would like.  The lemon zest compliments and brightens the natural sweetness of the blackberries...and I hardly ever need much of an excuse to find ways to give in to my profound citrus addiction!  For these tarts, I actually used a tablespoon of the crust mixture for each tart, but felt afterwards that the ratio between filling and crust was off, so I have tapered the amount of crust for each tart back a bit in the recipe below.  It should result in more filling and less crust, which I think will be a better balance.

 These are definitely two- or three-bite desserts, which I think are sometimes just right, especially in the summer months when something a little bit lighter for dessert seems best.  It is a great way to celebrate the best of summer by varying whichever berry or fruit 'jewel' you choose to feature on top.  It really is so much more fun to have your cake (or tart) and be able to not only eat it but truly enjoy it too!

Blackberry Cheesecake Tarts

10 ounces goat cheese 
2 eggs
1/3 cup turbinado/natural sugar
Flavoring of choice (I made mine plain), such as 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, orange extract, almond extract, honey, lavender...you get the idea

4 ounces of blackberries, OR raspberries, OR fruit of choice (8 ounces total are needed if making glaze)
Zest of one lemon for garnish

1 cup toasted sliced almonds (or nut of choice), cooled and chopped fine
3-4  tablespoons sugar, to taste
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon almond oil
1 egg yolk

4 ounces of berries
1-2 tablespoons of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon rose flower water, optional
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, mix the melted butter, oil and egg yolk together and lightly mix with a fork.  Mix this with all of the other crust ingredients together, making sure to evenly distribute the yolk, oil and melted butter throughout the remaining ingredients.  It should resemble bread crumbs.  Press this mixture into mini tart molds or a large springform pan.  If using the mini tart/muffin pan like mine, scoop two level teaspoons of the crust mixture into each spot, and level off with your fingers or a measuring spoon, pressing down.  Bake the crust mixture for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese and sugar together on low speed until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, on low, making sure to incorporate well after each addition, while also scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as well as the paddle.  If adding any flavoring, add now.  Scoop one tablespoon of filling into each muffin, or pour into your pan of choice.  Place a single berry onto the center of each tart, pressing gently (or sprinkle over the top if making a larger tart).  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until set.  Set aside to cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  With a sharp knife, gently nudge the filling away from the side of the pan, wiping the knife clean before moving on to the next tart.  

While the tarts are baking, cook down the remaining berries with the other glaze ingredients.   Bring gently to a boil for one or two minutes, mashing the berries with a fork.  Set aside.  Let cool slightly.  Mixture will thicken as it sets--add more liquid as necessary.  Brush a small amount of glaze over each cooled berry.  Place the entire pan in the refrigerator to continue cooling, for at least several hours until completely cooled and set.  Remove the tart(s) from the pan, garnish with a few strips of lemon zest or garnish of choice.


  1. I want to make your poppy seed cake first, then this will come next!

  2. I hope you will let me know what you think. Have you baked with goat cheese before? I LOVE to use it for cheesecake...I think it tastes better than cream cheese and it is all natural, 100% cheese, nothing else added!

  3. these little tarts are so pretty that I want to try it soon...pls let me know whether wheat flour pastry flour is same that of wheat flour ?? am not much into baking or rather preparing crust..


  4. Hi Saffron! Yes, you could easily substitute whole wheat flour or any kind of favorite flour you would like. I like the whole wheat pastry flour as it is just a little more finely ground, but has all of the health benefits of whole wheat. It is lighter and easier to work with in baking than straight whole wheat flour. And, I know what you mean about crusts...I am a fan of nut crusts as they seem to be easier to work with (not to mention taste so great) than traditional pastry crusts.

  5. Love the way the berries have settled onto the filling. Really lovely tarts!

  6. oh my god, this looks so delicious & divine! Tempting clicks! I'm your newest follower. I would be delighted if you follow me, if you find my blog interesting :)

  7. There is something about little desserts that is irresistible. Your photos are simply stunning. I love the textures in your beautiful little tarts.

  8. I am the kinds who eats dinner just so that I do not feel guilty about eating the dessert. And I am also the kinds that exercises just so that I can freely eat all the sweet baked stuff that goes around. So your recipe fits the bill perfectly! Thanks for sharing! But honestly I don't think I'll stop at just one!

  9. Hi Tadka! Thanks for the kind words. I too liked the way the berries seemed to be the perfect size for my mini muffin tin. I think raspberries and cherries would be beautiful as well!

    Ambreen--thank you so much for becoming a member, and yes, I would be quite happy to reciprocate. I think you have a beautiful blog and I look forward to seeing all the yummy recipes!

    Cathy...thank you as well for your very nice comments. I think all the kudos about the photos go to the lovely little berries! ;-)

    Hi Shumalia! I totally know what you mean...always a balancing act, isn't it? But that is the great part about this recipe...even if you are counting calories, fat or carbohydrates, you should still be able to indulge in several of these without any problem! You shouldn't have to exercise anything off with these! ;-)

  10. Believe it or not I recently started liking blackberries n since then have a couple of different recipes. was totally taken by the looks n the perfection of these cute little tarts!Gotta go n get some more more blackberries :)
    Us Masala

  11. Hi Aipi! I'm so glad you feel inspired. I LOVE any kind of berry really, but the blackberries are a real favorite. They bake up so nice, so if there are any 'texture issues' that anyone has with them, they totally soften up! Thanks so much for stopping by! Cheers!

  12. Fantastic! Those blackberries are beautiful and your chjeesecakes look so mouthwatering. A delightful dessert.



  13. Goodness, these look delicious! and so mini too :) i fear this wouldnt stop me from eating far too many of them though...! lovely, bookmarked for sure

  14. Hi Rosa and Procrastobaker (love your site names by the way)! Thanks so much for stopping by! Thanks too for the very nice comments...they were very delicious and I hate to admit that I polished off the entire plate myself over the course of the week WITH NO HELP so I agree that it was definitely hard to stop at one! I guess I will just have to swim a few more laps...it was totally worth it though! ;-) Hope to see you both again soon...

  15. Wow, this looks absolutely gorgeous. I need a couple of them for my Iftar table. I need to try this, SOON!!

  16. Hello again, Nashira! You are a sweetie! These are such a great size, and you can use your hands, so very informal, but kind of dressy at the same time. I hope you will give it a try...so simple, healthy and tasty! See you around, next time!

  17. These little cheesecake are really beautiful and looks so good! I'll will be check on your blog often, it's beautiful and I love your picture... I even became one of your official member... i'm so happy to discovered your blog!!! I hope I'll see you soon!

  18. Hello Kim! Thank you, again, for your lovely comments (and those left on the bread recipe as well). I'm so glad you have joined, and I hope you will be happy with the recipes that I'm posting. They are very much a labor of love, with as healthy 'tweaks' as possible. See you soon!


So glad you came by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!