I wanted to make an extra special Valentine for my sweethearts. I stepped out of my comfort zone and made them a cheesecake dessert for the first time. It turned out to be a hit and a recipe I’d like to share with you.
Because of the time involved, I consider this to be more of a weekend-dessert. The tart-crust portion takes some time to prep. The cream cheese filling is super simple, but once it’s baked, you’ll need to keep it refrigerated for at least four hours before serving. I’ll share the step-by-steps of how to make this easy-breezy.
Mili’s Sweets Sweetheart Cheesecake Tart Recipe
First, I’ll share how to prepare the chocolate-tart crust/shell. This is a wonderful recipe and my go-to for making mousse tartlets and more. I prefer a chocolate tart crust over all other crusts.
Chocolate Tart Crust/Shell
Here’s what you’ll need:
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large egg yolks
1 cup all purpose flour
(For a gluten-free crust, substitute with one cup all purpose, gluten-free flour. I use Pamela’s.)
1/4 unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting
Tools: tart pan, rolling pin, parchment or sandwich paper
Here’s what you’ll do:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
With a standing mixer, using a standard paddle attachment, beat the butter until it covers the bottom of the bowl. Add sugar, salt and pure vanilla extract. Mix at medium speed until completely combined. At low speed, add the egg yolks, one at a time, add the unsweetened cocoa powder and flour until combined. You’ll know when your dough is done mixing, when it completely lifts from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be nice and pliable.
Here’s a helpful trick, to easily transition your dough to the bottom of your tart pan, without breakage: Place a sheet of parchment or sandwich paper on a flat surface. Dust the paper and a rolling pin with a small amount of unsweetened cocoa powder. Take 1/2 of the dough and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball at the center of your paper/rolling surface. Roll to about 1/4″ flat.
Next, take your tart pan and place it upside down, onto the center of your rolled dough. Bring the two sides of the paper together, tightly at the center and turn your pan upright. Your dough will be perfectly placed. Use your fingers to remove the excess and lightly place the dough where it needs to cover the bottom.
You’ll want to bring the crust up, to where the cheesecake filling will be. Make the surrounding crust with the remaining dough that was left in your mixing bowl. Roll it and use the grooves of the tart pan as your guide.
(I confess, the chocolate tart crust is my favorite part, and I found myself making a ticker-than-usual crust around the sides. That’s all right. Go with what you like best. This is not about perfection, it’s about the joy of making something special and delicious.)
Place in the oven for 16 minutes, check it at 8 minutes and be prepared to poke one or two tiny holes at the bottom. (A toothpick or metal skewer will work well.) There will most likely be bubbles forming, and you’ll want to take all of the air out so that it’s nice and flat when it has cooled.
Allow the tart crust to cool for about 20 minutes.
For the hearts made onto the tart, I up-cycled an ingredient that I had on-hand. When I make from-scratch pie filling, I strain the excess liquid portion, reserve it, and can it. My hearts were from a cherry pie filling I had recently made. It’s so delicious and can be used for other recipes. My family loves canning our goods, savory or sweet, so that we can enjoy what we have made at a later date, and in the mean time, we teach our kids not to waste.
I think any strained pie filling would be perfect for making the hearts. For Valentine’s Day, I love the red of cherries or raspberries, but blueberry or blackberry pie filling would also taste amazing with the cheesecake. So, top it with what you like best.
To prepare your fruit hearts, warm up the mixture in a pan until it is smooth. Then, spoon it into a gallon sized plastic storage bag and cut a very small hole at the corner. Set it aside while you make the cheesecake filling. This step will only take a few more minutes.
Here’s what you’ll need:
2 packages cream cheese (16 oz.)
2/3 cup of sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
Here’s what you’ll do:
Re-heat your oven to 325 degrees.
With a standing mixer, and paddle attachment (either scraping or standard), beat the cream cheese for 4 minutes, at medium speed.
Add the sour cream, flour, salt and pure vanilla extract and beat for an addition minute, at medium speed.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Only mix until each egg is incorporated.
*TIP* To prepare room temperature eggs, take the eggs that you’ll want to use from the refrigerator and place them in a bowl. Run warm water over them in the sink and allow them to sit for a few minutes. They will be room temperature and ready to use in no-time.
Pour the mixture into the cooled tart pan.
Now, it’s time to make your hearts. Practice first on a flat surface, so that you know how much pressure to use. I piped different sized circles onto the top mixture. Then, I took the smooth side of a butter knife and “cut” through, from just above the circle, to below it. Some of the beautiful cherry filling will sink into the cheesecake.
Place into the oven and bake for 22-26 minutes, until the center has cooked through but it still fluffy and soft.
This is how the tart will look, fresh from the oven. Once it’s cooled, it will settle. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours, before serving.
Enjoy, and make sure your sweetheart(s) kiss you before you give them a slice!