The goat's cheese is sweetened and whipped with cream to create a sweet and tangy base for the berries that's both light and rich at the same time. The berries can be a mix of whatever you have on hand, or whatever was on sale at the store. Plus, they look adorable which makes them a great choice if you are having people over for dinner.
It took a bit of trial and error before I had a recipe that I was 100% happy with. The first batch was too sweet and the goat cheese barely noticeable. Then I went in the opposite direction and sort of overdid the goat's cheese flavor with the next batch. As I was sampling them all I could think was "ooh.. that's really goaty"
Not exactly the words you want to come to mind when eating dessert (is 'goaty' even a word?).
The third batch was the charm with the goat cheese and sweetness level hitting a nice balance. It's like the Goldilocks of recipe development: Too Bland, Too Goaty, Juuuuust Right.
The goat's cheese is first whipped with vanilla and icing sugar, then placed in the fridge to stay cool while the cream is whipped into soft peaks.
The two are gently folded together to create an airy mousse. The whole process takes under 10 minutes (even less if you have two bowls for your mixer, I don't so I always have to stop and give mine a rinse in between).
Then the mousse is spooned into tart shells. I used the store-bought puff pastry ones because I love the texture of puff pastry but if I had to make it myself it would move this recipe from the 'super-duper easy' category into the 'expert-takes-all-day' category. And if I'm going to spend all day making puff pastry, I'm probably just going to turn them into croissants or something else that lets the pastry shine. So store-bought it is!
The berries were a mix of raspberries and blueberries I had leftover from this recipe, plus cherries that had somehow survived my intense cherry binge from a few days earlier. Ah summer, so beautiful and so tasty.
Now, this was the only step that was a bit time consuming. I wanted the cherries to be eaten along with the other berries, not picked off the top and eaten separately, which means they needed to be cut in half and have their stone removed. If you're in a rush, then skip this step and plunk the whole cherry on top, or just stick to raspberries and blueberries.
I mean, it's not SO time consuming.. it's not like embroidering a cake with sprinkles. But it takes more time than making the mousse did, so it's completely optional.
Berry Tarts with Sweet Goat Cheese Mousse
12 tart shells, baked and cooled
175g (1 1/4 small packages) of plain goat's cheese at room temp
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1. In the bowl of your mixer stir the goat's cheese on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar until combined. Add the vanilla extract and whip on high for 1 minute. Place in the fridge to keep cool until needed.
2. Thoroughly whip the whipping cream on high until soft and fluffy. Gently fold in the goat cheese mixture using a spatula. Do not over-fold or you risk deflating the mousse.
3. Divide the mousse between the 12 tart shells. Top with an assortment of berries and serve.
Tip: The tart shells will get soggy if left for too long, serve within 2 - 3 hours of assembling. To make ahead, bake the shells and leave at room temperature, make the mousse and store in the fridge. Assemble before serving.