There’s something intensely satisfying when an unlikely idea works. Like when your friends who are total opposites in every way hit it off, or when you decide to put beets in a dessert.
Several years ago I tried a beet tart at a bakery I was working at, and it was such a memorable treat. The beets were poached in a vanilla bean-spiked cream bath, puréed, and then baked into a chocolate tart shell. If I remember correctly, the top may have been sprinkled with sugar and brûléed. I recall being amazed at the novel (at least to me) concept of using beets in a sweet way, and not trying to mask their flavor either, like one might do in a healthier chocolate cake.
The beets aren’t added for any health value here; make no mistake, this is not a virtuous confection. They’re added mainly for their arresting magenta hue, but also because they bring a delicate earthiness to this light and creamy cheesecake. You’re supposed to know they’re there. The sour cream and goat cheese deliver a nice tanginess, richness, and smooth texture to the cheesecake (don’t be afraid of the goat cheese, it’s a subtle flavor), and the chocolate crust provides a nice color and flavor contrast. It bakes up beautifully without the fussiness of the often required foil wrap and water bath, and it’s not subject to cracking either. Basically, it’s a low-maintenance cheesecake.
We can’t promise your hands won’t get stained, or that you won’t be able to fight the urge to sing “Beat it,” or “We Got the Beat” while making this cheesecake, but we can promise you’ll love every bite.
Makes one 9-inch tart, and serves 6-8
For the Crust (lightly adapted from Martha Stewart):
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a combination of Dutch process and dark)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the Filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
- 8 oz sour cream, at room temp
- 4 oz soft goat cheese, at room temp
- *1/2 cup cooked, puréed red beets (see below for instructions and a note)
- 2 eggs, at room temp
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To Make the Tart Dough:
Cream the butter and sugars together in a mixer (use a paddle attachment), and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple of times. After everything is well blended (about two minutes), add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt, and blend until incorporated. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time, just until blended, and scraping after each addition. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix just until combined. Shape your dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to two days.
Take your dough out of the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before you plan to work with it. Transfer the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure you press the dough with your fingers, well into every crevice, and that everything is an even thickness (you don’t want it to be too thick). You will have a bit of dough left over, as it makes a little bit more than you will need. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork. Pop it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes (you want it to be frozen). Then parbake at 325 for about 15 minutes (you want the crust mostly baked). Let cool on a cooling rack while you prepare the filling.
To Make the Filling:
First, make your beet purée, Peel 1 medium-sized red beet and cut off the top. Boil until tender (30-45 minutes). Reserve the cooking water. In a food processor, purée your beet until it’s smooth (you’ll need to add a little bit of water to help this process). *Make sure you have 1/2 cup, unless you’d like a more muted color, then you can use 1/3 cup or 1/4 cup, depending on how saturated you’d like the color to be.
To your beet puree, add the cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, and sugar, and process until everything is smooth and completely blended. Then add your eggs, one at a time, scraping down and around the sides after each addition. Add the vanilla and pulse just to combine.
Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake on a baking sheet for about 40-50 minutes (you want the tart to be set, but you still want to see a little bit of jiggle in the middle). Let cool on a cooling rack for about an hour and then refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve with whipped cream and pulverized freeze-dried raspberry powder (just rub some of the raspberries in between your fingertips to get a powder). Tart will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.