Just a few short months ago, I was flipping goat cheese wrappers inside out and scraping out the corners with a tiny spoon to release all the smears for this cheese-heavy tart. Not wanting to spend one cent more to ensure enough usable quarter-ounces of cheese, I worked those wrappers for all that they were worth. Now I find myself in the complete opposite set of circumstances, those being that fresh, neverending goat cheese is the most readily available ingredient around; I still scrape out the bowls with a tiny spoon, but now with much less desperation and a lot more pride.
The inspiration for this tart came just in time too. My stint at the goat cheese farm is just two weeks old, but my role is feeling more settled, routines are natural, and free time more predictable. Based on how the farm sells at market and how much milk we're getting from the girls, certain afternoons and evenings are now far less burdensome than they were just ten days previous, which means I have time to bake! A few days ago, on one of the most sweltering afternoons thus far, Arlene, Dave, and I riproared early through our chores and cheeses. The dough for this tart was already assembled and the chevre already made (by me!) and set aside, so I threw together and baked the filling before we high-tailed it for nearby Schoodic Lake, with beers, sandwiches, and pooch in tow. For a few blissful hours, we dove off tall rocks, exhausted ourselves swimming out as far as we could and back, and swapped stories about weird dates and weird parents. Only one slimy lake creature was spotted, and no one came home with a brain amoeba: success!
And when we got home sun-soaked and somewhat buzzed to finish evening chores, I managed to sneak away to finish the salted ginger caramel and top this tart before dinner. Supper perpetuated our lovely, easy day, as farm-fresh organic everything--all-beef hotdogs, burgers, cherry tomato cobbler baked with cheese that we made, kale chips, and potato salad--was amassed upon the table and gobbled up without hesitation. There might not be too many opportunities for me to make the cheese that makes a tart and then eat it surrounded by new friends and folks with hilarious stories, so I plan to take advantage of it as many times as I can over the next five months. On that note, do you have any must-make goat cheese baked goods recipes, sweet or savory? I'd love to know and make them!
Ginger Caramel Goat Cheese Tart
Inspired by Nothing in the House's Blackberry Lemon Goat Cheese Tart
Makes enough for one nine-inch tart
Crust and Filling
One-half recipe all-butter flaky pie crust or other pie or tart dough of your choosing
16 ounces soft chevre
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest from one small lemon, about two teaspoons worth
Salted Ginger Caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter (or unsalted + 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt), cut into one-inch pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-inch peeled knob of ginger, grated and pressed to yield one tablespoon juice
1. Parbake pie crust: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out pie crust to an 11- or 12-inch circle and fit it into nine-inch tart pan. Fold under edges, pleat, and prick all over with a fork. Fit a sheet of foil against the dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans then bake for ten minutes. Carefully remove the foil, press down any crust bubbles, and bake for five to eight minutes more, until crust is lightly golden. Reduce temperature to 350 once crust is parbaked.
2. Make the filling: meanwhile, add chevre, eggs, and sugar to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low until filling is uniformly blended, about three minutes. Add the extract, juice, and zest, scrape down the sides, and mix until filling is smooth.
3. Bake: set parbaked tart shell on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Pour filling into hot tart shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes, until filling is set on the edges and slightly soft in the middle; be sure to rotate pan halfway through. Allow to cool on wire rack completely, about two hours. Can store undressed tart in fridge at this point, if not finishing tart the same day.
4. Make caramel* and assemble: add sugar for caramel to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Melt sugar over medium-high heat, whisking gently as needed to ensure even melting. Once sugar is melted, swirl pan every 30 seconds or so until sugar turns a deep copper color. With heat still on, add butter and whisk like mad to melt; mixture will sputter, so be careful. Then, add cream and ginger juice, stirring until caramel is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool in fridge for about one hour. When cool, pour caramel over goat cheese tart, spreading to edges of crust. Cool in fridge to set caramel, one to two hours, or cut it into it straight away like we did and end up with a really delicious mess. If you want, sprinkle a few flecks of flaky sea salt over the top too.
*Do ahead: Caramel can be made days or even a week ahead and stored in the fridge. Just rewarm ever so slightly in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds before spreading over the tart.