We love cheesecake here at Everybunny HQ, however, we often find that the cakes out there are too fluffy, grainy, wet, or too sweet. To remedy these issues, we decided to make our own cheesecake, but cut down the rich filling and turn it into a cheesecake tart!
Yes, it’s the common debate among cheesecake enthusiasts: are you for Team Fluffy or Team Dense? Personally, I choose Team Dense, although I admit that there is a time and place for light and fluffy cheesecake. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for those that are Team Dense, YAY!), this isn’t the time. Sorry, Team Fluffy… we’ll get to you guys later.
Don’t hate on the dense cheesecake, though! Its richness has a wonderful place in a delicious tart shell, creating an excellent ratio of creamy cheese and crunchy crust without the heavy, and often, overwhelming, filling. My hubby and I have been dreaming up a lovely recipe for a few years, trying to cut down on the sweetness and getting rid of the grainy texture you sometimes find in flour-enriched cheesecakes. After you try this recipe, you won’t want to eat anything else!
- 155g (10 full sheets) Graham Crackers
- 20g (5t) Granulated Sugar
- 3g (½t) Kosher Salt
- 85g (6T) Unsalted Butter
- 6g (about 2t) Corn Starch
- 15ml (1T) room temperature Water
- 340g (12oz, 1 bag) Frozen or Fresh Mixed Berries
- 25g (about 2T) Granulated Sugar
- 454g (1lb) Cream Cheese, softened
- 39g (about 3T) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 127g (about ½-cup plus 2T) Granulated Sugar
- 10g (1T plus 1t) Corn Starch
- 7g (about 1T) Whole Milk Powder
- 1 large Egg
- 1 large Egg Yolk
- 6g (about ½T) Vanilla Extract
- 6g (about 1t) Lemon Juice
- 1½g (1) Lemon Zest, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- In a food processor, crunch up the graham crackers until they turn into crumbs. Add the sugar and salt, and pulse until combined. Remove the contents into a small bowl.
- In a small saucepan on low flame (or in the microwave), melt the butter and pour onto the cracker crumbs. Mix until the crumbs are evenly coated.
- Press the ground graham crackers into the tart pan, spreading it evenly to make a secure crust.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the shell.
- While the shell is cooling, combine the corn starch and water, make it into a slurry, and set aside. Pour out the mixed berries into a saucepan. Add the sugar, and set the saucepan on a very low flame. Stir the fruit continuously, until the fruit has thawed (if frozen), or until its juices are releasing and beginning to simmer. Stir and cook for another minute.
- Give the slurry a stir and add it to the saucepan. Mix carefully and thoroughly until it thickens. Turn off the flame and cool the fruit. Refrigerate after cooling.
- In a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment, add the softened cream cheese, butter, and half of the sugar. Paddle slowly, trying not to incorporate too much air. While the cream cheese mixture is coming together, combine the corn starch, milk powder, and the other half of the sugar. Add these dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until incorporated.
- In a small bowl, loosely mix the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add to the mixer. Add the lemon juice and zest, and mix until just combined.
- Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell, level it flat, cover the base in foil, and bake it at 350°F (176°C) in a water bath for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating.
- Slice and serve chilled with the berries and a dollop of whipped cream (optional).
- Try not to make a powder with the graham crackers. Keep the crackers crumbly.
- Pre-baking the shell for 8 minutes allows the crust to get some color and keep its shape.
- I take out the berries straight from the freezer, but you can defrost them in the refrigerator first. I like to keep my fruit as whole as possible, but I understand that raspberries tend to break apart in the pan. That’s okay! It’s going to help me create a good and thick sauce. However, I’m not trying to make this into a jam; it’s more like a quick compote. So, stir gently.
- If it’s berry season, use a mix of fresh berries! Cut the strawberries in half or into quarters, as they are larger and would take longer to cook.
- I want the cream cheese, butter, and eggs to be at similar temperatures for ease of mixing. If one product is colder than the other, the mixture won’t turn out smoothly. Additionally, mixing the corn starch, milk powder, and sugar together, before adding it to the wet ingredients, prevents clumping.
- I don’t want to paddle it fast because that will add air to the mix and make my cheesecake soufflé.
- You can easily combine all of the filling ingredients in one large bowl and a spatula. You don’t necessarily need to use a stand mixer. Just follow the same procedure above.
- I make this in a water bath to keep it from baking too fast. We want the cheese to set, but not over-bake. Often we can tell if it’s set by giving the tart a gentle shake; if the center is moving as a whole (not sloshing), it’s ready to come out of the oven.
- Make sure your foil is running up the sides of the tart pan, so the water doesn’t seep in. Place your tart onto a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan (or any pan large enough to hold the tart and a small amount of water), and place onto the oven rack. With a corner of the pan hanging out, slowly pour the water until it reaches halfway up the tart pan, then proceed in baking the cheesecake. By pouring the water in the oven (instead of filling it on the counter and carrying it to the oven), I prevent it from spilling everywhere.
- Chill the tart in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, or overnight, before serving.
- Use fresh fruit and whipped cream if you want a different take of the same thing.
**Here are some of the ingredients I use for this recipe. Please, feel free to browse and ask questions on anything you see listed below.**