I debated long and hard over whether to post this recipe.
Desserts in general usually don’t qualify as “healthy,” and of course I’m all about promoting healthier eating and living. However, what constitutes “healthy” varies widely depending on who you talk to and what your perspective is on nutrition and dietary principles. Some healthy eaters avoid gluten but fully embrace (organic) dairy. Others, like me, have reduced their daily intake of gluten and dairy, but still consume gluten and dairy from time to time, reserving them for special occasions, such as dinner parties and holidays or occasional treats. Then there are those who fear saturated fat or avoid fats all together. The list goes on and on.
But here in California, the markets are full with the first strawberries of the season–dark red and wonderfully sweet, and who doesn’t sin a little from time to time? Also, this tart is so easy to make, looks beautiful, and is very low in added sugar, so here it is.
8 tbsp organic butter, chilled (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup whole-grain spelt flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup coconut flour
a pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp evaporated cane sugar, divided
2-3 tbsp ice water
8 oz lite cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
1/3 cup whipping cream, whole milk or quality coconut milk
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 lb fresh, organic strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
Set out the cream cheese or neufchatel cheese in a warm place so it can soften.
For the crust: Heat the oven to 375 F. Mix the flours, salt and 2 tbsp of sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the chilled butter or coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in a little ice water and continue to mix until the dough just barely starts to come together but is still quite crumbly. Do not overmix or your crust will be tough. Press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Prick the bottom with a fork. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the crust is golden and slightly puffy. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, heat the cranberry jelly and 1/3 cup water over medium heat, stirring regularly until it is dissolved down and thoroughly mixed. In a small bowl, add 1 tbsp of the cranberry mixture to the cornstarch and stir until thoroughly blended. Add to the saucepan and stir until thoroughly incorporated and the mixture is a thick syrup consistency. You can add a little more water if needed. Strain into a small bowl using a fine mesh colander. (This step isn’t necessary, but it strains out the bits of cranberry skin that are in the cranberry jelly I buy.) Set aside to cool slightly.
Using and electric mixer, beat the cream or neufchatel cheese until it’s uniformly creamy. Beat in the lemon juice, whipping cream or milk, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of sugar until the mixture is light and creamy. Spread evenly on the bottom of the crust.
Place the strawberries in concentric circles starting at the outside edge of cream layer. Drizzle the cranberry glaze over the strawberries.
Chill in the refrigerator until set. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.