Cheese tarts are enjoyed all over the Mediterranean, but are especially popular in Greece and Portugal. This particular recipe, traditionally found in the tavernas on the sun-splashed island of Santorini, produces small, delicate tartlets.
- For Pastry:
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon water, or as needed
- For Filling:
- 1 pound fresh soft cheese such as mizithra, ricotta or farmer or equal parts ricotta and cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus cinnamon for garnish, optional
- Grated orange or lemon zest, optional
FOR PASTRY: Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process briefly to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Process with rapid on-off pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Process to form a soft dough, adding a little more water if needed. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and holds together, about 5-10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the pastry by hand, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and stir to mix. Add the butter and shortening and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut them into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon water and, using a fork, stir together until the mixture forms a soft dough, adding a little more water if needed. Gather the dough together, then knead, shape and refrigerate as directed for the processor method.
FOR FILLING: Combine the cheese(s), sugar, flour, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and the orange or lemon zest, if using, in a bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll out each ball into a round 4 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer each round to a tartlet tin 2 1/2 inches in diameter, pressing the dough firmly but gently into the tin and fluting the edges. Place the pastry-lined tins on a large baking sheet. Alternatively, butter a large baking sheet. Form the 4-inch rounds into free-form tart shells, pinching the edges to make a fluted rim. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Carefully spoon the cheese filling into the tart shells, gently smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake until the tops are a pale golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and serve at room temperature.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
289 calories; 12g total fat; 73mg cholesterol; 122mg sodium; 38g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 8g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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