Some dishes take on a life of their own and that’s certainly been the case with our Strawberry Heart Tarts. The now-famous dessert first emerged when Anne Clark, our original baker, developed the recipe for the opening of The Commissary. Draping dough over the backs of heart-shaped gelatin molds and filling the baked crust with chocolate, cream cheese filling and jam-glazed strawberries proved a marvelous creation and they quickly caught on. At the height of The Commissary’s operations, the kitchen was turning out more than 400 tarts every Valentine’s Day. The heart tart was integral to marriage proposals, wedding vows and romantic celebrations for lovers citywide. Some 30 years later, the heart tarts were sold to raise funds for Frog Commissary baker Diem Truong’s husband, who was battling a brain tumor. A combination of compassion, community support and pure nostalgia for the confectionary treats brought in close to $100,000 in sales. Today, the Heart Tart lives on, these days in both its original form and as a miniature bite-size dessert for weddings and other events. The recipe, which was included in The Frog Commissary Cookbook, is a classic, the perfect dessert to make for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.
Strawberry Heart Tarts
Makes 6 individual tarts
Requires: 6 heart-shaped gelatin molds
1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons cold water
Cream Cheese Filling
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 pints of strawberries
1/3 cup sieved or seedless raspberry jam
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, butter, and shortening. Whiz for several seconds until crumbly. Add the water and whiz until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for ½ hour. (It can also be held in the refrigerator for up to 4 days but bring it to room temperature before using.)
To roll and bake the shells, preheat the oven to 350°. Bring the dough to a workable temperature and divide into 6 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a circle large enough to drape over the back of one of the gelatin molds. Trim off any excess and prick the molded dough several times with a fork. Set the 6 molds dough-side-up on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until pale gold and crisp. Cool the shells completely while still on the molds.
Cream Cheese Filling
In a mixer or food processor, combine all the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Fill the tarts as close to serving time as possible. If you are not serving them immediately, do at least keep them well chilled. Remove the shells from their molds and set upright. Melt the chocolate in a small pan over simmering water, then divide it among the 6 shells and spread evenly over the bottom of each. Let the chocolate cool 10 minutes before filling. Divide the cream cheese filling among the 6 shells. Stem the strawberries and toss gently with the jam to coat. Top each tart with 5-8 berries (depending on their size) stem-end-down.
Buy The Frog Commissary Cookbook and At Home by Steve Poseshere.