Summer 2012: Day 7. Coming from a girl who usually has summer booked from the day after school lets out until the last possible moment before cracking down on summer reading the week before classes start, the word “downtime” is hardly in my vocabulary. Before getting in the loop with jobs and the whole summer brouhaha, I have a couple weeks to veg and relax at home. I’m not going to lie, leisurely waking up this week with the biggest thing on my to-do list being “go to yoga” is a little weird. My dad has informed me that I have a year’s worth of chores to catch up on, so I have consequently taken various trips to the bike store, finally applied for a VIC Savings Card at Harris Teeter, and shoveled dog poop out of our backyard in the scalding Carolina heat.
I occasionally have text message reminders from my brother demanding that I “make him a dessert” since he is slaving away at school while I nap by the lake or listen to live music in town with high school friends. Without lots of plans and much to my mother’s delight, I have found myself cleaning my room and even unloading the dishwasher without being asked to escape the 90% humidity outside. As I put away a third coffee-stained mug, I wonder what the world must be coming to and when almost-summer May will turn into real-Summer June full of sunscreen, popsicles, and sweaty neighborhood lemonade stands.
This week I have made up for a semester’s worth of lost sleep and enjoyed my parents’ home cooked meals while transforming visions of premade dining hall casseroles into figures of my imagination. I have gotten lost while running the local cross-country course, and my first sunburn has turned to tan. Having some time off from the ‘real world’ of papers and problem sets (just kidding—like I did a problem set as an International Studies major…) has also given me time to drool over my mom’s collection of cooking magazines and bookmark a handful of recipes to test out this summer. One of the first images to grab my attention was this Strawberry Almond Cream Tart. The glazed red of the strawberries in the magazine photograph made the dessert look more like a piece of art than tart, and my stomach instinctively began to rumble. Here goes:
Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart
Source: The Best of Cooking Light 5
Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 piece).
Ingredients: Crust: 36 honey graham crackers (about 9 sheets), 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, melted, 4 tsp water, cooking spray; Filling: 2/3 cup light cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar, ½ tsp vanilla extract, ¼ tsp almond extract; Topping: 6 cups small fresh strawberries, divided, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350º
- To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor, process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and water, pulse until moist. Place the mixture in a 12 x 8-inch rectangular pan coated with cooking spray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to ¾ inch. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl, stir until smooth. Spread filling mixture evenly over the bottom of the crust.
- To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor, and process until pureed. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat; cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Combine 4 cups strawberries and juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in 5 straight lines over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for another use). Arrange nuts around edge. Cover and chill for three hours.
•You can use a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan, a 9-inch springform pan, or a 10-inch pie plate.
•The crust and filling can be made ahead. Cover and store separately in the refrigerator. Serve extra glaze on ice cream or pound cake.
Calories: 289 (28% from fat); Fat: 8.9g; Protein: 4.5g, Carb: 48.7g; Chol: 15mg; Iron: 1.3mg; Sodium: 242mg; Calc: 59mg.