How to make a cheese tart
(A) Tart Pastry
100g cake flour (updated 4 Oct 2016, use all purpose flour for more crunchy texture)
20g icing sugar (updated 4 Oct 2016, use caster sugar for more crunchy texture)
50g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp fresh milk
1. First, sift cake flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add cold salted butter cubes.
2. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
3. Add an egg yolk to the mixture.
4. Use a scrapper to mix the egg yolk.
5. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use the hands to form the mixture into a dough.
6. Add fresh milk, the dough will become very soft and pliable.
7. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place on a piece of clingwrap.
8. Wrap the dough and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.
9. After 1 hour, remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, roll the dough thinly, about 3-4 mm thickness. Use a 7cm fluted cutter to stamp the dough.
10. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
11. Place the cut dough over a tart tin (5.5cm top/3cm base) and gently press it downwards.
12. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart tin.
13. Manage to yield 9 tart cases (previous time was 10 because this time the dough was rolled thicker). Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart cases.
14. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 10mins.
15. The tarts will be very slightly browned, but cooked already. After the tart cases are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before use.
(B) Cheese custard (yield is more than enough to fill 9 tart pastry)
150g cream cheese
50g mascarpone cheese
20g parmesan cheese
30g salted butter
100g fresh milk
30g icing sugar
8 – 12g corn starch ** explanations provided below
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
up to 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
1 egg yolk for brushing on top of custard
1. Add cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh milk and salted butter into a small pot. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot (I use wok) with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted.
2. Once the mixture has melted, add sifted corn starch and icing sugar. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
3. Add full egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard. Taste the custard and if desired, add some sea salt to increase intensity of cheese taste.
4. There may be still some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard, sifting will yield a more velvety smooth custard. This is optional.
Using the cheese custard cooked with lesser corn starch and more runny consistency (5A), I filled 1 tart, brush top with egg yolk and baked it at 230C, fan-mode for 6 mins (realised that the key is to bake at high temperature, short timing). The filling turned out lava-like, which is what the Hong Kong folks baked.
Initially I thought it was the temperature and timing that affected the tart. I even pre-chilled the custard before baking (to set it). This time, I baked at 235C, fan mode for 5 mins. Tart browned much too fast and I had to stop baking at 5 mins. Still runny, lava consistency for the cheese filling.
Once again, I pre-chilled the custard, back to 230C, fan mode for 6 mins. After removing the tart from the oven, I knew (from the wobbly look and surface) it was going to be the same runny filling as (1) and (2). So I pop the baked tart into the fridge for 30 mins just for testing. Surprise, surprise, the consistency of the filling turned gooey, instead of runny!
But but, I wanted it to be gooey straight from the oven when it’s warm, not chilled! So by now, I realised it could be the custard after all.
6. So once again, I filled the cheese filling into the tart. The filling is firmer, can be piped more dome-shape (unlike previous version 5A, the filling shape is flat). (Based on the original website, the photos also show the cheese custard to be on the firmer side). Brush the top of the cheese tart with egg yolk.
Baked the tart at 230C fan mode for 6 mins. (Key is to heat at high temperature, short timing). When I cut the tart into half, I heaved a sigh of relief, FINALLY! The exact gooey consistency I wanted =D The cheese custard was so smooth and creamy, yippee!