I don't make dessert very often, so when I do, I like it to be special. Something that's worth the effort and calories. And today's dessert is just that, only it's lacking in effort and calories. Score!
Here's what we have: A rich and creamy filling consisting of quark, creme fraiche and sweetened condensed milk, flavored with the juice and zest of seasonal Clementines, nestled in a buttery biscuit (cookie) style crust. Sort of like a cheesecake, if you will.
Quark is a soft cheese, slightly tangy in flavour with a texture that is somewhere between thick yogurt and cream cheese. It is very popular in Germany and Eastern Europe and is used in everything from dips and pasta to cakes and crepes. It naturally has a very low fat content, making it a healthy alternative to cream cheese.
The addition of sweetened condensed milk in this recipe adds extra creaminess as well as sweetness to the tarts, eliminating the need for additional sugar. A rich, dark chocolate drizzle adds a touch of bitter sweet and a chocolate covered Physalis lends a wonderfully elegant touch.
Clementine Tarts with Chocolate & Physalis
Makes 4-6 (depending on the size of your tart pans)
Note: I used some oaty German biscuits for the tart crust, similar to Hobnobs, but really any plain biscuit will do. For best results, chill tarts overnight.
200g biscuits (cookies) such as Graham crackers, Digestives or Hobnobs
50g butter, melted
150g creme fraiche
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Finely grated zest and juice of one large Clementine
4-5 squares of good quality dark chocolate
6 Physalis (Cape Gooseberries)
Preheat oven to 350F/175C
Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until finely ground. Pour in melted butter and pulse to moisten. Firmly press the biscuit mixture into the base and sides of individual loose-bottomed tart pans. Bake in the oven for about 5 mins, then cool while you make the filling.
Clean the blade and bowl of the food processor. Add the quark and blend for 5 seconds or so, add the sweetened condensed milk, clementine juice and zest and blend for a few seconds more. Add the creme fraiche and blend until smooth and creamy. The mixture will be quite runny at this point, but it will set once it's baked.
Pour the cream mixture into the tart pans and bake in preheated oven at 350F/175C for 5-7 minutes. Be sure NOT to brown. Leave to cool. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour into a piping bag or small freezer bag and snip off the end. Drizzle onto the tarts then top each with a chocolate dipped Physalis. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.