This is perhaps one of the most useful desserts you can have in your repertoire. Not that it is the job of a dessert to be useful: a dessert exists merely to delight. Still, dinner does need to be made, even when there's precious little time for it, and that should be a delight, too. So here's the deal: there is pitifully little work to be done to make this berry-dazzler of a tart, and enormous pleasure to be derived from its consumption.
All you do is bash a few graham crackers a day or so in advance and make the base - getting one course out of the way early is my way of managing - then stir lemon curd and cream cheese together, and use this cream to line the crumb-covered tart pan. I use store-bought lemon curd here, but even if it comes out of the jar, it must be of good quality. And when it is whipped into the cream cheese, that cream cheese must be at room temperature, as should the lemon curd in its jar. The combination produces a layer of what tastes like cheesecake cream: light, lemony, luscious.
I used to put the berries on top of the cream pretty much last-minute, but then I found that a leftover wedge, after the party, looked inviting after being in the refrigerator overnight, and so I now finish assembling the tart ahead of time. But if you prefer to add the fruit nearer to serving, I completely understand.
Don't feel you must obey the fruit orders too literally: any mixture of berries (or indeed other fruit) would do, and you could well use a smaller amount and top the tart less extravagantly.
Process the crackers and the butter to a sandy rubble in a food processor and press into the sides and the bottom of a deep-sided fluted tart pan. Put it in the freezer or refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes.
In a clean processor bowl, process the cream cheese and lemon curd (or just mix by hand) and spread it into the bottom of the chilled tart pan, covering the base evenly.
Arrange the fruit gently (so it doesn't sink in too much) on top of the lemony cream cheese in a decorative manner, leaving some of the strawberries unhulled, with their picturesque stalks attached.
Refrigerator the tart, preferably overnight, or for at least 4 hours. It does need to get properly cold in order to set enough for the tart to be unmolded and sliced easily.
Make Ahead Note:
The tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, being careful not to press on the filling, and refrigerate. Will keep for around 4 days.
The tart, without fruit topping, can be frozen for up to 3 months if made with regular cream cheese, but be warned it may "weep" on thawing, so is not ideal for freezing. Open-freeze tart until firm, then wrap (still in its pan) in a double layer of plastic wrap and layer of aluminum foil. To thaw, unwrap and cover loosely with plastic wrap then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Decorate and serve as directed in the recipe.
From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. Copyright (c) 2010 Nigella Lawson. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.
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