Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cottage Cheese and Jelly Tart

It has become Family Ritual to eat with my in-laws every weekend. There's always a certain amount of grumbling about this, as we're expected to stay well past the actual meal, but it's generally a good opportunity to get caught up (and to dry our towels in their dryer).

Generally my mother-in-law does the cooking because my father-in-law is extremely suspicious about new foods. But occasionally we'll bring some food over--especially when there's a recipe I want to make that involves grilling--our grill lives at their house because it's about the size of our whole kitchen.

So this past weekend, I had Sami do a wood-smoked salmon thing from a back issue of Cook's Country (yummy), and I made potato salad and green beans and this cheese pie--the last cheesecake in the book.

This recipe was especially easy for me to make here in France because I could use fromage blanc, which is pretty much what the puréed cottage cheese Maida calls for is. Only better. It's smooth and creamy--kind of like a combination of yogurt and cream cheese. They serve it here for dessert with honey or jam, and it's quite good.

So as you see, this is kind of a pie/cheesecake hybrid: you make a pie crust and hope it turns out better than the one I made here--pie crust is always a crapshoot for me. You bake it blind and brush it with egg white and then with your favorite jelly (I used currant).

You then whisk together your creamy cheese with eggs and sugar and such, pour that in, and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have cinnamon-suspicious eaters). You bake it and it puffs up all over the place. Then you chill it and eat it. 
I would have liked this even better if my crust had turned out and also if it had had more time to chill, but even so, it was delicious--lighter than standard cheesecake but with lots of flavor and a welcome fruity burst from the jelly. It's not my very favorite Maida cheesecake (I'll need to reflect on that one), but I'm glad I made it, and I hope you'll make it, too.

Here's the recipe.

Cottage Cheese and Jelly Tart


2 c. (8 oz.) sifted flour (some whole wheat is good here)
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. (6 oz.) cold butter 
1 t. cider vinegar
2-3 T. cold water
1 egg white (you'll need a yolk for the filling below)

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and give it a spin to mix. Cut up the butter in cubes and scatter them over the flour. Pulse until the butter is in pieces no larger than a pea. Sprinkle the vinegar and about 2 T. of the water over and pulse until the dough just begins to come together (you may need to add a bit more). Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll the dough out and use it to line a 9-inch pie pan. Chill again at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 450. Line the crust with foil or parchment and weigh it down with dried beans or pie weights or even, my new favorite, a vegetable steamer. Bake for 13 minutes (consider making the filling while the crust bakes). Take the liner out and bake another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Beat the egg white with a fork until it's frothy and brush some onto the crust. Put it back in the oven for a minute, then take it out and brush more egg white on it. Set aside or fill right away (keep the oven at 450 if you're going to bake the pie soon).

1-1/2 c. (12 oz.) full-fat cottage cheese (or fromage blanc or quark, if you can get that)
1/8 t. salt
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) sugar
1 t. vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 t. lemon juice
2 eggs PLUS 2 egg yolks
1-1/2 T. (0.75 oz.) butter, melted
1/2 c. (4 oz.) sour cream

1/2 c. (about 4.5 oz; you can eyeball this) raspberry or currant jelly

1 t. cinnamon
1 t. sugar

If you have cottage cheese, you'll need a food processor. Put the cheese in the food processor and let it run, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides, for a full minute, or until it is absolutely smooth. To the smooth cheese add the salt, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, melted butter, and sour cream. Pulse a few times just until mixed.

Now it's time to layer the pie: spread the jelly in a thick layer over the pie crust. Pour the cheese filling over that, and then sprinkle with the cinnamon mixed with the sugar. Put that carefully in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven temperature down to 375 and bake another 20 minutes. The filling will puff up quite dramatically but will settle down again upon cooling. Let cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 4 hours. Serve in large slices because it's "low fat".

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