Turn store-bought puff pastry into delightful little tarts with fresh fruit and a lemony cream cheese filling; try eating just one!
If you’re a loyal reader, you will mostly like know already that home for me is Canada. To be more precise, we call Toronto home. There’s a positive side to living in a metropolis. Everything is readily available and pretty much at your finger tips. But, I long for a quiet life in the country.
But, just because I live in Canada, that does not mean that I cannot celebrate and prepare a recipe for Independence Day. I love living in Canada, but I’m very much drawn to the United States. You know, Dear Reader, that I have a weakness for shopping and for country decor, and I find those things in the US. I have a full on love affair with Trader Joe’s (which we don’t have here in Canada) and I love Target and Barnes & Noble.
In addition to my attraction to obviously materialistic things, a large portion of subscribers and readers of Lord Byron’s Kitchen reside in the United States. So, for those readers, I prepared these delicious and super easy Puff Pastry Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts. (Don’t worry, my Canadian readers, there’s a special Canada Day-based treat coming for you in a few days!)
STORE BOUGHT PUFF PASTRY BECAUSE WHY NOT!?
So, let’s talk puff pastry. First of all, let me just go on record and state that I have never, and probably will never, attempt to make puff pastry from scratch at home. It’s a skill that takes time to master and I have not yet mastered a simple pie crust, so I’m not about to attempt puff pastry.
WHAT IS PUFF PASTRY?
Puff pasty is a light, flaky, and buttery dough. It is thin layers of dough separated by a thin layer of butter. The dough is rolled out with a rolling pin and a layer of butter is smeared on top. Then, it’s folded over and rolled out again. This process is repeated over and over. Commonly, puff pastry can have up to 1,000 layers! Do you see why I’m not attempting to make it from scratch?
Once puff pastry is baked, the butter melts to create steam. This is how those flaky layers are formed. Each layer of dough is separated from the next to create a puffed dough that’s golden brown and super delicate.
You can buy puff pastry in the frozen section of most grocery stores. Look in pie crust and cool whip section of the freezer. You can use puff pastry for so many things, so you might want to buy extra and keep it in your freezer. Whatever you do, please follow the directions on the package very carefully. Each manufacturer seems to have different prep and baking times.
PLAN AHEAD FOR BEST RESULTS!!
Puff pastry is sold in sheets. You will need to defrost overnight in your fridge. If you attempt to defrost at room temperature, they might become too sticky to work with. Plan ahead for this recipe, Dear Reader, to avoid wasting your puff pastry. Usually, when I bring home store bought puff pastry, I leave it in the fridge and use it the next day. That way, I don’t have to worry about remembering to remove it from the freezer.
When you prepare your Puff Pastry Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts, you can use any fruit that you like. I decided to use strawberries and raspberries for their red colour, and blueberries and blackberries for the blue. I know the 4th of July is all about red, white, and blue, so I’m going to say that the cream cheese filling is white, so this tart certainly works for the red, white, and blue theme!
USE THE BERRIES YOU LIKE THE BEST
Of course, you don’t have to make a red, white, and blue theme. You can use just berries or just fruit. I also made some with all strawberries and all blueberries just because I had extra left over. There’s no glazing necessary. I don’t think the tarts need the extra sugar. The fruit and berries have natural sugar, and there’s a little bit of sugar in the cream cheese mixture.
Serve these tarts at room temperature with a little sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar. They’re sure to be a hit! Have a happy and safe 4th of July!
If you loved this recipe, here are some others that might interest you as well:
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Puff Pastry Cream Cheese Fruit Tarts
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (you can add the halves or slice them very thin and lay them onto the cream cheese – see photographs)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Set aside.
- Using a hand-held mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Unroll the puff pastry and gently roll it out with a rolling pin. We are not trying to make the puff pastry flatter or bigger, but simple leveling out the surface.
- Choose two round cookie cutters. The larger cookie cutter should be about 3 inches in diameter. The second cookie cutter should be about 1/4-1/2 inch smaller.
- Using the largest cookie cutter, cut circles out of the puff pastry. Place the circular puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet at least 3 inches apart.
- Using the second cookie cutter, position it in the middle of each previously cut puff pastry and gently push down to make a small indent. DO NOT cut all the way through. We are basically scoring the pastry to prevent the filling from running out onto the crust when baking and to encourage the crust to puff up more than the center.
- Next, use a fork to gently poke the center of the prepared puff pastry. I tend to poke the pastry a total of 4 times and make an X or a cross-like pattern.
- Add a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture to the center of the prepared puff pastry and spread it evenly, but do not spread it past the inner score. Keep the outer crust free of any toppings!
- Fill in the center of the tart with the berries, pushing them gently into the cream cheese mixture so that they stick.
- Next, whisk together the egg and the tablespoon of water. Brush the outer crusts of the prepared puff pasty with the egg mixture. Use a small pastry brush for best coverage.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the outer crusts are puffed and golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow the tarts to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Before serving, garnish with a gentle sprinkling of confectioner's sugar.
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