I found myself thinking about the “Clean Plate Club” today. It was sixth-grade Science Camp and the goal was for your entire table of campers to completely clean their plates to become members of the “club.” My sister recalls people drinking other’s cereal milk for them so the table wouldn’t suffer. Apparently we took this task very seriously.
There was probably a song or catchy mantra to be sung or recited at every meal, but I don’t remember it. The only song I remember from camp is The Banana Slug Song set to the tune of Twist and Shout. Twenty years later, I still sing that song when anyone mentions banana slugs (which happens more often than you might think).
So how does any of this relate to Blackberry Cream Cheese Tarts? It doesn’t really, except that it popped into my head as I was typing this and it made me chuckle to think of a roomful of sixth graders wanting so desperately to be a part of this so-called club. I’m willing to bet that camp was the only week that most of us ever even thought about cleaning our plates.
But enough about Science Camp…here’s the recipe:
Blackberry Cream Cheese Tarts with Pear-Champagne Drizzle
Makes enough to drizzle over 4 tarts
1 very ripe pear, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup champagne
Simmer pear, sugar and water until no liquid remains, stirring and mashing pears occasionally. When all liquid has reduced, stir in champagne. Reduce champagne until sauce has a thick consistency. Remove from heat and puree in a blender. Reserve.
Blackberry Cream Cheese Tarts
Makes 4 tarts
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar (or more depending on tartness of blackberries)
1 cup blackberries, plus extra for garnish
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
Puree first 5 ingredients together in a food processor. (Check if more sugar is needed and add as necessary.)
Cut puff pastry sheet into 4 equal pieces, then roll each piece out on a lightly floured surface to fit your dishes. (You want some to hang over the edges.)
Lay puff pastry into dishes, then pour cream cheese filing into each and brush exposed dough with egg wash. Top with a few blackberries. Bake at 400 degrees for 23-25 minutes, until pastry is cooked through and browned.
Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Just before serving, drizzle pear-champagne sauce over each tart.
A few notes:
The blackberries were fairly tart to begin with and after baking, the whole berries on top seemed to get even more tart. So unless your berries are very sweet, garnishing after baking might be the way to go.
The pastry on the bottom of the tart was a bit tough and hard to cut through. Perhaps I should have kept them in the oven longer (and covered them to keep them from browning more) or rolled the dough out thinner. It’s also possible that my puff pastry had been in the freezer a little long and didn’t crisp up as well as a fresher sheet might have.
The end result? The tarts were a hit…they were yummy and pretty. The richness of the cream cheese filling was cut by the tartness of the blackberries and the pear-champagne drizzle offered just the right amount of sweetness.
And even though a bit of elbow grease was needed to cut through these, it didn’t stop us all from becoming members of that illustrious club that evening.