This tart uses a cookie crust, but you could use a graham cracker crust as well. Pastry might work, but only if you're not planning on a lot of leftovers. The cookie crust got softer on the second day, but not in an unpleasant way. I think pastry might just get soggy.
I made the cookie crust, of course. The great thing about a cookie crust is that you can roll out the left over dough and cut out some cookies. And yeah, that's what I did. They're pretty good all on their own.
But I don't want to give away the whole recipe here - you really need to buy this book, even if it's just to drool over the photos. So I'll let you contemplate your own crust, whether it's crushed graham crackers or shortbread cookies, or whether it's a baked cookie crust.
The nice thing about this recipe is that while it looks impressive, it's actually very simple. And you can make the ingredients in advance and assemble them before your guests arrive. So even if you are baking your own crust, you don't have to worry about oven space on the day of an event.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart
Adapted from Bake! by Nick Malgieri
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup almond meal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and halved or quartered
Prepared crust in a 9-inch tart pan.
For the crumb topping:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Use a rubber spatula to stir the butter in. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then break it into pieces with your fingertips into pieces about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Sprinkle the crumbs on the baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Check it after about 15 minutes, and stir to prevent the bottoms and far edges from overbrowning. Let the crumb topping cool completely. If the pieces have clumped together, you can break them up before putting them on the tart.
For the filling:
Beat the cream cheese with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
To assemble the tart:
Spread about half of the cream cheese in the bottom of the tart pan. Top with the strawberries, cut-side down. Top with the remaining cream cheese, and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the filling. I ended up with more topping than I needed, even though I was pretty generous with the crumbs.
This tart can sit at cool room temperature until serving time, or refrigerate it an let it come to room temperature before serving. The longer is sits, the softer the crust will become.