Bill says that he is over the whole "birthday week" idea and that he's been feeling that way since his last 30th birthday. Good thing I am not because as it gives me the opportunity to post about these Goat Cheese and Berries Tarts that were part of his dessert table a couple of weeks ago. Actually, I made these on three separate occasions prior to his birthday. Each time they disappeared as fast as the donuts.
They are good. They are pretty. They are a breeze to make. Simple pleasure. Sexy too. Indeed, as soon as I put these on the table the other day, our dear friend T. exclaimed "sexy tarts for SPOC!" And this is where I have to backtrack a little and explained why the entire room bursted out laughing, except Bill.
A couple of years ago, my dear husband was voted "SPOC", short for Sexiest Professor On Campus, by the College newspaper. (makes me wonder if the writers of Star Trek had something else in mind). That evening, Bill walked through the door furiously waving the paper in the air, red as a carp and exclaiming "I am SPOC! I am SPOC! I am ruined!"
I picked up the paper from his hand and started reading, half smiling, half laughing the whole way through. Actually, I thought it was pretty darn cool! I was married to the Sexiest Professor On Campus! Hello?!! Mine is what younger women refer to as "seasoned gentleman", you see. Told him I totally agreed with their hotness rating and that it was just a light topic to read during exams. No one said it was international news they were writing about. I could not figure why he was so upset.
"People voted for my looks and not my academic capabilities. How will I ever be taken seriously by my peers now? Looks over content! That's terrible!" (notice the drama bit here). He went on and on like that for a couple of minutes until I broke his rant by saying "Is that all? You don't find it demeaning? You don't feel cheated, cheap?" He looked at me completely surprised by my last comment, adding "well, geez! Thanks! You sure know how to make me feel better!"
I called him over to the kitchen, handed him a slice of cake and said "Dude! First, by looking at the other professors in the running, they would have been out of their minds not to pick you! Second, it's all meant in good fun. Third, well, shiz Bill, you are sexy so shut up and eat! Dang you make it really hard to pay you a compliment!"
I thought we were done with this mini crisis (Oy! My girlfriends' seem easy all of a sudden!) until his bestfriend T. put his hands on a copy of the paper, circled SPOC in red, framed the article and presented it to Bill for his 50th birthday that same week. We knew it was meant as a joke but I could hear Bill sigh as he tore open the wrapping paper. I quickly brought over a piece of cake, said "shushh and eat up! You sexy thing" and made a popping "SPOC" sound with my hand and my mouth. He did not find funny. At all.
To this day, whether we want to brush his ego or push his button, depending on the mood and occasion, we all insert SPOC anywhere we can in the conversation and make popping SPOC sounds whenever we can throughout the day. And most often we like to add "shushh and eat up!" And you know what, even after a gazillion desserts, Bill still retains his sexy figure. Men...Not fair!
One thing he asks me to make about every other week is these tarts, filled with a mild goat cheese mousse and topped with berries during the Spring and Summer or caramelized apple during the winter (they would be great with roasted quince too, come to think of it). We love goat cheese and berries together, especially goat cheese ice cream and cherries so we tend to use medium bodied cheese but if you are hesitant regarding the final taste, try with a mild one first. I have tried all sorts of different pastry doughs for these but I always go back to a short crust. It tends to stay crisper longer while filled with moist cheese or mousses.
Two years ago: Marbled Ricotta Cheesecake Brownies
Goat Cheese And Berries Tarts.
For the pate sablee:
2 tablespoons (20gr) slivered almonds
1/4 cup (50gr) cup sugar, divided
1/2 stick (56.5gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90gr) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the goat cheese mousse:
200 ml heavy cream, cold
4 oz (120gr) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25gr) to 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar, depending on your preference
juice and zest of half a lemon
2 cups assorted berries such as raspberries, red currants, blueberries, etc...
Prepare the pate sablee:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place almonds and 2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla bean seeds, ground nuts and salt on medium speed until well-combined. Slowly add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and flour and mix well. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
Place the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out four 6- inch rounds and fit them inside four 4- inch tartlet rings, patting the dough in with your fingertips if it breaks on you as you transfer the rounds. Gather the scraps and set aside.
Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place a piece of parchment paper inside the tart shells, fill with beans or pie weights. Bake the shells for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks and remove the pie weights.
Prepare the goat cheese mousse:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks and reserve it in the refrigerator while you prepare the mousse.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the goat cheese and sugar with a spatula (if the goat cheese is soft enough there is no need to put your mixer to use on that one). Add the lemon zest and juice and mix thoroughly until incorporated.
Carefully fold the reserved whipped cream into the goat cheese base by placing your spatula in the center of the bowl, scooping the bottom over the top. Give your bowl a 45 degree turn and repeat until the batter is smooth. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and divide it evenly among all tart cooled tart shells.
Divide the berries evenly over the mousse and refrigerate the tarts until ready to serve.