A not-too-sweet dessert, the filling for these tarts is a light, tangy cheesecake.
12 3” diam. prepared tart shells in foil cups
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 large egg
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Grated zest of one lime
Green food colouring, preferably paste (optional)
Soft-Candied Lime Zest
Zest of 3 limes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipping cream, optional
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Use this temperature even though the one stipulated on the tart package is usually higher.
Step 2: Place the tart shells on a baking sheet. Prick each shell twice with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Step 3: In a mixing bowl, with a hand-held mixer on low speed, cream together cream cheese and sugar, then beat in cornstarch, egg, lime juice, zest and food colouring, if using, until smooth. (Note: If using food colouring, add just a hint to achieve a pale green colour. Paste food colouring is preferable here because it enables you to control quantity better. Even one drop of liquid food colouring may make the mixture too bright for this recipe.)
Step 4: Fill each of the partially baked tart shells 3/4 full with cheese mixture. Bake the tarts on the middle rack of the oven for 20-22 minutes until filling is puffed and set (filling will level out once it’s out of the oven) and pastry is golden. Remove tarts from oven and let cool on a rack (keep them in foil cups). Refrigerate if desired.
Step 5: Meanwhile, to make the Soft-Candied Lime Zest, use a zester (the kind with several small round holes at the end). Apply pressure to score the lime peel as deeply as possible, and try to make continuous strands all along the lengths of the limes.
Step 6: In a small saucepan, heat water and sugar over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Add lime zest and cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes. The sugared water will thicken slightly, but do not cook it to a syrup that will harden; the zest should taste sweet, but remain soft. Using a fork, pull strands of zest out of pot, separate and lay out on parchment paper. Garnish tops of cheesecake tarts with dollops of whipped cream, if using, and several strands of Soft-Candied Lime Zest. Serve the dessert at room temperature or chilled.