Birthday Tarts

I’ve never really liked birthday cake. It’s sacrilege, I know, but there’s something so sickly sweet and terrible about the birthday cake and all that icing on top of it that just really turns me away from it. Don’t get me wrong; there’s always a time and a place for cake, just not on my birthday.

Because of this, at the joint birthday parties my sister and I would have, there’d sometimes be some alternative like a gigantic cookie cake or ice cream cake, but sometimes it was just so easy to go the the grocery store bakery and pick something up.

But a few years ago I moved in with my mom and for my 15th birthday we made this.

It was awesome. And ever since I haven’t been content with just any cake. It may seem silly, but at the same time I don’t care what you think! Hahaha. And for the most part I’ve been making my own birthday desserts, so it all works out.

One thing that’s hit me and really stuck was the tart.

For the longest time I’ve been making these with my mom and sister. We always followed the Martha Stewart recipes for the crust and the filling, but this time I wanted to try to make my own recipe. (Part was due to the desire to create from absolutely nothing, not even a recipe, part was due to the laziness encountered when faced with the task of looking up the recipe.)

I started off by selecting and preparing some fruit that I thought would go well together and look nice.

I chose blackberries, strawberries, kiwis, dragon fruit, raspberries and blueberries. Good stuff.

And for the crust, I used:
1/4 cup sugar (you can use less or none at all, as you wish)
2 cups flour
8 oz cream cheese
1 tbs water

This makes enough for one 9inch round plus a little extra. I used my handy-dandy stand mixer (thanks mom!)

to mix the dough but any sort of mixer (or even your hands) would work fine. You want it to have the consistency of a crumbly cookie dough.

I just put it in the pan and flattened it out with my hands, but it would also work if you rolled it out first. That’d probably look really nice, but at the same time, it’s about to be covered with cream so it doesn’t matter.

I didn’t bake it, I wanted to see how it would come out as is. So I just set it in the fridge to get harder and cold while I did the next parts. (I think I’m going to try baking it later, maybe into a pear-tart, mmm.)

***UPDATE***
So I tried baking them this time. They came out kind of crunchy and nice, so I definitely recommend it. If you want it to be flakier and lighter, try adding a little butter. Maybe even replacing some of the cream cheese for butter.
I preheated and baked at 360-375 (my oven’s not super accurate) for about 25 minutes. I checked on them every 5, so that may have let out a bunch of heat, thereby making it take a bit longer than it should have. They brown a little, but not very much; you don’t want them to be golden all over, just some on the edges. (If they cook too long they get kind of too hard.)
***

Next I made the filling. It was very simple and light because it doesn’t use cream cheese like a lot of other fillings I’m used to making.

It calls for:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (powdered would be best, but in all honesty I used granulated)
16 oz cottage cheese (small curd)
1 tbs vanilla

Similarly, just whip until it’s whip-creamy. I think I got up to the 6th speed setting, and maybe let it sit there a few minutes. But you can play around with it some, like stop it for a “quality control taste test,” if needed.

Then when that’s done, just plop the whipped cream onto the tart shell, flatten it out with a spatula, and start decorating.

I had a couple of friends help me decorate, which explains the variety of designs. This is really one of those tangible manifestations of food-ing as a social thing. It’s nice when people can get together over something playful and delicious like this.

Camcorder

Now I know this isn’t directly related to food, but I thought I’d let you know anyway.

In a few months I’ll be moving and I’ll have fewer roommates to share my badass kitchen with. One of the things I’m considering doing there is actually filming recipes on occasion. (One of my silly little dreams is to become a TV food person who travels around and cooks.) But in order to do this I’m going to need a camcorder. Though my camera does have a video function, it’s not that great. If you know anything about that sort of stuff, it’d be awesome if you could enlighten me.

I also need a tripod. Imagine, never having another blurry picture again!

Baking

As any of you who may be following me on facebook or twitter will know, I am in a quest for madeleine pans. I have found a store that sells them, but it is in one of the most expensive malls around–the Domain. I have since found another location to look for them, but I won’t be able to go until Tuesday at the earliest because of my lack of transportation and their short hours of operation…

But I will get them soon enough, and all will be well in the world.

As a note, I plan on baking more now that it’s winter. Being next to a warm oven is one of the greatest winter pleasures. I also plan on making a few more soups. There are only about two weeks of school left, so after finals, there will be many more posts and a lot more gluttony.

Kinder Bueno

kinder bueno

Kinder Bueno is one of my favorite candies. I recently discovered that I could order it online and I’ve been trying to justify to myself buying a case of them.

Kinder Bueno Case

It’s made by the people who made Ferrero Rocher and Nutella, and it’s pretty much an explosion of awesomeness. It tastes very much like a Ferrero Rocher but without the nuts.

There is a whole line of Kinder chocolates, but this one is my favorite. It’s one of those things that I’d have to buy next time I’m in Europe. Along with Dragibus, but I haven’t been able to find those online.

mini_dragibus