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Sunday
Mar252012

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

I was on a flight from Minneapolis back to my hometown after a week long escape to the ocean. I've flown dozens of times over the last few years, heading from here to there over land and sea for various reasons. I love the ease of freedom of flight—the rush of the take-off and the release of landing. This particular flight, however, was different.

It started off conventionally; I boarded the small plane and, after we took flight, ordered an orange juice and settled into a good book. The sun had already set and the interior of the plane glowed softly from the irregular pattern of lights blushing overhead. Midway through the short flight, the captain quietly mentioned we may be running into a bit of turbulence, but not to worry as we would still be arriving on time.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The seatbelt sign lit up above me. The stewardess hurried up and down the aisle gathering the last of the empty cups and napkins before the commotion began, assuring everyone that everything was all right, but could we please raise our trays and place our seats upright just in case. I set my book aside and looked out the window, spotting a small light here or there on the prairie below.

The plane shook softly. After a short pause, it shook once more. The turbulence had begun. I had flown in light turbulence before and it was nothing to fear. However, unbeknownst to the passengers, we were flying headlong into a vicious lightning storm.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Staring out the small window, I noticed the lights on the plane's wings were being echoed sharply by the sky. It took a few moments to realize the lights were not reflections from the constant blink of the wing's lights, but were the result of lightning streaking across the sky. The plane's soft, infrequent agitations quickly took a turn for the worse. The plane suddenly shook violently. I was lifted into the air from the force and my seatbelt dug into lap.

The plane jarred sharply to the left and to the right. The lightning created strobe lights in the interior of the plane, alternatively bathing everyone in bright light and darkness. I braced myself against the seat in front of me, sparing a glance out to the other passengers. As the plane plummeted another few feet, the same thought appeared to collectively cross our faces.

Am I going to die?

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The plane grew quiet, as if we had all held in our breaths and had nothing left to spare. A few rows in front of me, a mother was the only one to break the silence as she tried to comfort her young son (Do you remember that time when...). I listened to her weave a story, straining to hear her over the unsettling noise of the luggage moving around overhead. I noticed the older couple across from me also listening to her speak; I doubt she realized she was reassuring more than just her son with her words.

The plane became a wooden roller coaster, jerking the passengers back and forth and up and down. Though many chose to shut the screens to their windows to block out the lighting, I left mine open along with a few others for the same reason—to make sure the ground stayed where it should. Minutes stretched to hours and I grew nauseous, as my stomach flip flopped from the motion of the plane and the dark thoughts running through my head. The older woman across from me began to pray, folding her hands over the handle on the seat in front of her as she bowed her head.

Was I ready to die?

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The ground swelled up quickly to the meet the plane and it took me a moment to realize we were landing instead of crashing. As we hit the runway at a frightening speed, my head flew forward, smashing into the seat in front of me. It was clear we were going too fast. The captain slammed on the brakes, but we skidded along the wet pavement like a car who had lost control on a sheet of ice. After a few long and terrifying moments, the plane jerked to a full stop.

We were safe.

Only after the seatbelt light flickered off, did the passengers let out the collective breath we had been holding. The woman beside me shakily told her husband she would be dead before she set foot on another plane again. My legs shook violently beneath me as I dared to stand. I met my mother in baggage and hugged her tightly, unable to express exactly what I had been through and neither wanting to. To this day, I have never been happier to set foot on solid ground.

The flight often crosses my mind. I later learned I had spent an hour and fifteen minutes being jostled back and forth, both from the plane and from my thoughts. It was the first time I had truly feared for my life—the first time I had anticipated the possibility of my death. While I am not afraid to fly the skies again, the unexpected flight will certainly stay with me, if only to remind me of the rush of gratitude and relief that comes with knowing I am safe.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

This Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart borders the line between savory and sweet. The goat cheese and sour cream filling, sweetened with honey, bakes up and settles like a cheesecake in the basil infused tart crust. Once cooled, the tart is topped with fresh, ripe blackberries and drizzled with warm honey. Perhaps unexpected, the complex flavors of blackberry and basil contrast elegantly against the strong flavor of the goat cheese. This tart has served me both as a dessert and weeknight dinner. This tart is certainly one to impress.

One Year Ago: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart
Inspired by Always With Butter

Yields 1 9-inch tart (or 8 tartlets)

Basil Infused Tart Crust
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 sprig (5-6 large leaves) fresh basil, shredded
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour

In a food processor, blend the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and process until well mixed. Add in the salt, vanilla extract, and egg and process again. Throw in the basil leaves. Scrape around the bowl if necessary. Add the flours and pulse just until the dough forms a ball. The dough will be the consistency of very soft and sticky cookie dough.

Remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight to firm up the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

When chilled until firm, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8-inch thick (you may have to wait a few minutes for the dough to soften). Cut out rounds of dough to fit the tartlet pans (alternatively, if you are making a large, single tart, roll out the dough and cut a large circle to fit the tart pan). Press the dough carefully into the pans and mend any breaks or tears with excess dough. Stab the bottom several times with a fork so the dough will not rise in the oven.

Bake the tart shells for 15-18 minutes, or until they are lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch.

Goat Cheese Filling
5 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey

In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, sour cream, egg, and honey until absolutely smooth. Pour mixture into large tart shell or divide evenly between individual tart shells. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until filling is puffed and golden. Allow tarts to cool completely.

Topping
12 ounces fresh blackberries
2-3 tablespoons honey, warmed
Fresh basil leaves, shredded

Once tarts are cooled, top with blackberries and drizzle with warm honey. Garnish with shredded basil leaves, if desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

To store, chill tarts in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Reader Comments (30)

Your pictures are to die for wonderful. They make me want to lick my computer screen. Wouldnt that be awful- I can see the weird look my husband is giving me right now. LOL
03.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen
you scared me so much i barely i saw dessert... thats pretty down powerful, i live for stuff like this!
03.25.2012 | Unregistered Commenteronceinabluemoon
What a scary flight, I have had a few scary moments but nothing like that length of time...& again it was quiet, as I think you just hold your breath! These tarts look and sound incredible, I love the combination of flavours and your photos...stunning :)
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMairi @ Toast
These sound absolutely lovely! I have a large tart pan and could make these, but they're so pretty as little tarts! I'll have to buy a new pan :)
Your story sounds like my worst nightmare. Glad you're safe and sound. These tarts look incredible. Blackberries are so wonderful!
That is terrifying! Im glad you and everyone on the plane was ok! On another note, the tarts look delicious. I love how rich blackberries look, the colour is stunning.
I saw that blackberry goat cheese tart on Always with Butter and thought it looked incredible...and unbeatable...but somehow you've created a version that looks as good as, if not even better! Love the idea that it can be both dessert and dinner - my kind of tart :-)
03.26.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
Also glad to hear your safe, and wonderful pictures as always :)
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
That flight sounds terrifying. Good thing these wonderful looking tarts can bring a brighter ending!
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterbrookeO
I loved the bit about the mother telling her child a story and the comfort it brought others. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

The tartlets are adorable! I am really into desserts that walk the line between sweet and savory. Gorgeous photographs as well!
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandy
As I continued reading, I kept thinking, "Did I miss something? Is this an excerpt from a novel?" My goodness that sounds terrifying. I'm happy it ended up okay!

Your pictures are unbelievably amazing as always. The blackberries and that honey shot... wow. I always show your posts to my husband and tell him that I want to take pictures like yours and he says such encouraging things like, "Yeah... you should." Hmm. Well at least we both admire your skills. :)
Oh, this looks SO good! I seriously cannot wait for berry season where I live...definitely need to try this one out! :)
03.26.2012 | Unregistered Commentersara
Oh my gosh! What an incredible story. I know this is kind of weird to say becaue you feared for your light (heck, I would be too) but your story telling is quite captivating. I held my breath the entire time I was reading. I would be so terrified, not to mention vomiting (I get motion sickness easily). I'm so glad you're alright though.

I have to admit, though, that I laughed a little when I started reading the description of the tart becaue I was so engrossed in what happened that I sort of forgot that there was going to be a recipe at the bottom of the post. Then, when I read it, it was just told nonchalantly, like the begining part of the post never happened.
this recipe is so fantastic in so many ways. I love reading your blog and can we talk about how awesome the food quotes you find are? beautiful food, photos, and prose
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiana
Whew, I didn't even realize how tense I was reading through your post until I got to the recipe. That was intense!

The blackberries have been beautiful this year. This recipe looks like the perfect way to use them!
Yum! The tarts look delicious!

That is definitely a terrifying experience. As I was reading what you went through I placed myself in your shoes and I felt like I was experiencing what you were going through as I've been through something similar myself, except in a snow storm. When I left the airport near my hometown it was beautiful and sunny but when we approached Toronto there was a fierce storm raging. The plane went through so much turbulence and all I could see out of my window as we approached the ground was white from the snow and black from the night. The airport was officially shut down around the time we landed. I love flying, and still do, but that was one of the most scary experiences of my life and I'm really glad you made it safely!
03.26.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
oh my, stunning photos. thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe and that story on flying.
03.27.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbaobabs
What a terrible flight and what a sharp contrast with these lovely tarts. I love goat cheese and think it's a great idea to combine them with blackerries!
03.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
You're such a good storyteller, I was completely captivated the whole time. You should write a book of personal essays.
How scary. Thankfully everything turned out all right. ON a lighter note these tarts look great--I love the idea of something only gently sweetened.
03.27.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara
Wow. What a recipe - such a scrumptious combination of flavors. Yum!
Wow! That's all I could think of when I saw these tarts! They look, and sound, utterly divine.
Lovely photos!!! This is a very tasty combination of flavours, sweet and salty, I like it!

I made your oatmeal bars the other day, by the way, and they were delicious!!! I I used a mixed muesli (not only oatmeal, but raisins and some other cereals) and syrup instead of honey: simply perfect ;-)

Thanks a lot for your recipes!
Cheers
I've been on that flight, and I've flown through a lightning storm - though thankfully, not for as long a timeframe. We all applauded the pilot when we touched down! Glad you made it home safely.
03.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKtP
You have such a gift for writing. What a terrifying experience - thankful that your plane was able to land safely! Also, these tarts look simply divine...
04.4.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily R
wow...I felt so torn reading this. The harrowing details of your scary flight experience mixed with these beautiful pictures of delicious looking blackberry goat cheese tarts...I wasn't sure what to feel! However, blackberries and goat cheese together in a dessert seem like such heaven you could forget all about the hell of that flight!

I once had goat cheese cheesecake at a restaurant with port soaked pears, served with olive oil ice cream and topped with crushed pistachios...it was the most amazing dessert I've ever had. This little recipe reminds of that so I must make these!!
04.5.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
Gosh, that sounds like a rather scary experience – I'm glad that you aren't terrified of flying again though!!

These beautiful blackberry goat cheese tarts look terrific! I wish it was blackberry season here so that I could try them out, but I'll have to wait…
Excellent review and summary. ,I love goat cheese and think it's a great idea to combine them with blackerries!
05.16.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNokia Libre
i'm going to use some goat cheese in my cheesecake today! it's a great idea.
01.13.2013 | Unregistered Commenterkimberly
OMG! Love it! And also the incorporation of whole wheat flour ~ I always try to do that. Thanks!

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