This is a light but richly delicious Alsatian cheese tart, based on fromage blanc, a fresh cheese similar to strained yogurt. If you can't find or make fromage blanc, the tart can also be made with whole milk ricotta. It's somewhat reminiscent of cheesecake, but without the heaviness; pure bliss.
I was actually making these tarts for some time before I learned that it was a traditional use for fromage blanc. It just seemed like a natural thing to do with this "white cheese". And making fromage blanc is a snap; All you need is milk and a packet of starter (available online from several sources). If you want to get started with cheesemaking, this is a great place to begin!
1 gallon of whole milk
1 packet direct-set fromage blanc starter for home use, or appropriate amount of starter from a larger bulk packet (like a pinch, but you do the math)
Starter is added to 86F warmed milk, covered and left overnight. Drain through cheesecloth and refrigerate.
Yield: About 2 pounds.
Pâte brisée (sweet)
1 1/4 cups flour
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
4 T cold milk, approximately
Pour flour on counter. Mix the salt and sugar in.
Put the butter on top, and pointing your fingers down (like playing the piano), pinch it into the flour.
When almost uniformly mixed, gather the flour together and make a well in the center.
Pour the milk into the well and pinch in lightly with the same motion.
Do not over-mix. The goal is a dough that will just hold together. Rolling it will incorporate it further.
Fromage Blanc Tart
- Butter a 9-inch springform pan, or a tart pan with removable bottom
- Heat oven to 375F
- Roll out Pâte brisée and fit into the prepared pan; trim excess. Refrigerate.
3 large eggs, separated
1 T flour
2 T corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T finely grated lemon rind
2 lb. fromage blanc (see recipe above), or whole milk ricotta
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until light
- Whisk in the flour, cornstarch, vanilla and lemon rind
- Beat the fromage blanc into the mixture until smooth; set aside (note: if using ricotta, emulsify it in the food processor before adding in)
- In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to the soft peak stage; add in the sugar while continuing to beat the whites to the firm stage.
- Fold egg whites into the cheese mixture
- Pour into the prepared crust
- Bake at 375F for about 50 minutes or until well browned.
- Cool on rack, unmold and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar