berry tart

Red, white and blueberry tart

Red, white and blueberry tart is my favourite July 4 dessert.  It is a spectacular presentation with seasonal berries fresh from the farmer’s market on top of a sweetly tangy sour cream base and a graham cracker crust.  It is virtually no cook, which makes it perfect for a hot summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.  I do a red and white version for Canada Day, with all strawberries.

The original recipe comes from the July 2001 issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  It calls for raspberries, which taste great, but sometimes you don’t want the little seedy bits in a nice dessert.  This is one of the few desserts where I swap out strawberries for raspberries because I think their texture is better for the presentation.  Strawberries aren’t commonly used in a lot of composed desserts, because they have a much higher water content than raspberries and makes things mushy.  Think about it – you rarely see strawberry pie, except mixed with rhubarb, and you have to really focus on controlling the water content with enough thickener.   Here it works, because the topping is completely uncooked, so you can add whatever fresh fruit you want on top.

No Bake Crust

Those of you who are looking at the picture closely will have noticed that the photo actually shows a pastry crust, not graham cracker.  That’s because I had an extra fully baked home-made tart shell in the freezer and I was looking for a way to use it up.  Usually I do this recipe with a graham cracker crust, which is much easier.

I did promise that this was virtually no cook, and that you wouldn’t have to turn the oven on.  Unlike a pastry crust, you can do a graham crust in the microwave.  The original recipe asks you to bake the graham cracker crust in the oven, but with a little experimenting, I found that it works just fine in the microwave.   It takes 2 minutes and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.  No rolling pin.  Just pat the crumb crust into place with your fingers or a fork.  This couldn’t get any simpler.

Fat Reduced

Over the many years I have been making this recipe, I’ve also removed some of the fat content.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of melted butter; I use 2 tablespoons of oil (or melted butter, which would give a better flavour).  That does make the graham crust harder.  If you want a softer texture, increase the fat in the crust to 1/4 cup of melted butter or oil.

When it comes to the filling, I have long since switched to substituting in low fat cream cheese and 1% sour cream.  I haven’t tried the 95% fat reduced cream cheese here, but the fat reduced cream cheese is fine.  Really, it is. You’d never guess.  It doesn’t affect the flavour or texture negatively at all.

Red, White and Blueberry Tart

No bake sour cream tart topped with fresh berries.

Crust

  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp oil

Filling and Topping

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (Note: I use low fat and it's fine)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fat reduced sour cream
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces blueberries
  • 8 ounces strawberries

Crust

  1. Mix the crust ingredients together in a 9″ pyrex pie pan, and press into the pan with a fork or your fingers.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high. 

Filling

  1. In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.  Beat in sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.  Note:  If you don’t have an electric mixer, I bet you could use a food processer for this instead although I haven’t tried it.  Spread the filling in the crust and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Topping

  1. Arrange berries over filling and serve.

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