Every other week, we pick up a log of fresh goat cheese from the CSA. It’s great cheese, direct from Black Mesa Ranch, and we love getting it and supporting people who treat their animals well. One year, they held an open house, and we stopped in to learn about their ranch, animals, and production, and had a great time.
Even though we love their cheese, sometimes we just pop it into the freezer, thinking that we’ll use it later. Then, before you know it, we have a couple of logs in the freezer, with another on the way. That’s exactly what happened last week when we came up with this recipe.
This is really easy to make, especially if you have a Pâte Sucrée sitting in your freezer (the recipe makes two crusts, so, when we need one, the other ends up in the freezer). And, it’s pretty much a 100% Scratchin’ It recipe, so let us know if you like it.
We don’t see why you couldn’t make this with cream cheese instead of fresh goat cheese. We had the goat cheese on hand, and we thought the slightly tangy flavor would pair well with the sweet cherries. But, watch out for goat cheese; it can taste, ah, somewhat goat-y, which is probably not what you’re after. For the crust, we recommend a slightly sweet crust, like the Pâte Sucrée recipe we have posted. If you have another crust recipe you want to use (we think a chocolate crust would be great), feel free. Finally, the thyme might seem odd in a dessert, but, without it, you couldn’t call it Cherry Thyme Cheese Tart, now, could you?
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. It you don’t have a tart pan, a quiche pan will work, and, if you don’t have a quiche pan, a pie pan should work. If you don’t have a pie pan, be creative.
Roll out crust. You can place the crust between two sheets of baking parchment or sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour for rolling. We’ve used both, and prefer rolling the crust on flour by a slight margin. It doesn’t slip around as much. If you go with the flour, try to minimize the amount of flour you use so your crust stays tender. Continue rolling until you have a rough circle about 10 inches in diameter.
Fit and trim. Carefully transfer the rolled-out crust to the tart pan, and gently press it in. This crust is fragile, so it might break apart here and there, but, don’t worry, as you can just press it together once it’s in the pan. Press the crust into the corners and the fluting, then use a knife or bench scraper to cut away the excess crust. We find that the excess crust is just enough to make a couple of 5-inch tarts, which you might catch a glimpse of in the photos.
Freeze. Pop the tart crust, pan and all, into the freezer while you make the filling. Freezing helps to prevent the dreaded slumping of the crust, so it’s a good habit to get into. Some crusts will still slump, but the freezing does help.
Make filling. Combine the eggs, cheese, corn starch, sugar, thyme, and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn it to medium and beat until the batter is nice and smooth, and no lumps of cheese remain, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Fill. Pour the filling (it will be pourable) into the crust, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.
Add cherries. Spread the cherries across the tart evenly, and lightly press them into the filling. We want the cherries somewhat in the filling, but not completely. Having them in the filling will release a bit of flavor, while having part of the cherries exposed will allow the moisture to evaporate, concentrating the cherry flavor.
Bake. Place on a baking sheet — so butter doesn’t leak out and onto the floor of your oven — and bake until the crust is golden brown and the sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
Cool. Let the tart cool for at least 30 minutes before lifting it out and transferring to a plate.
Sometimes we surprise ourselves. We just think about what we’d like to make, think up a recipe, and poof, it turns out. That’s what happened with this recipe, although we will have to say that it could have used more thyme. Consider increasing the amount, perhaps adding as much as a teaspoon of thyme, as the cheese mutes the flavor. But, otherwise, we really liked this tart. It was pretty cheesy, not too sweet, and packed with cherries. That’s enough for four stars.