On a bit of Japan withdrawal, I fulfilled my creamy sweet cheesy cravings with this style of Hokkaido cheese tart made from home!
We were in Japan just a few weeks ago and made our way to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido which is the most northern region of Japan. The Hokkaido area is well known for its dairy products that are extra creamy. This lends to super rich and creamy ice cream, cheese, milk, butter and really, all dairy! Hokkaido has the creamiest soft serve ice creams and the most delightful cheese tarts that are available on every corner!
While not all can be replicated without the quality cream cheese ingredients, this is an ode to my memory! The combination of a nice crunchy and flakey tart crust with a soft slightly warmed rich cream cheese filling. Makes for a delicious midday snack for a slight sweetness but not over the top.
Baked Cheese Tart
- ½ cup (114 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) all purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz (226 g) cream cheese (I prefer full fat)
- 2 ⅓ Tbsp (34 g) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 ⅓ Tbsp (10 g) cornstarch
- 1 egg room temperature
- 5 oz (153 g) plain yogurt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 egg yolk lightly beaten
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until softened. Add in the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Continue to beat the sugar mixture on low, slowly add the beaten egg until the egg is incorporated. (Do not overbeat). Add in the flour and salt and mix just until it forms a ball of dough.
- Form the dough into 8 flat discs of about 9 cm diameter and cover with plastic wrap (no need to use a rolling pin). Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes until firm enough to handle.
- Lightly butter or spray non-stick spray on to 8 of the molds of a standard sized muffin pan.
- Once the dough is ready, pat each disc into each of the muffin molds. Pat the dough into the corners and sides of the dough so there is no space in between the dough and the mold pan. Cover with plastic and put into the freezer for about 15 minutes.*I like to use a small spoon to pat into the creases and sides and smooth out.
- As the dough freezes, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Once the dough is chilled enough, lightly prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.*Freezing and pricking the dough are both steps to help prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes.
- Once the oven is preheated, stick the muffin pan into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake for 12-15 more minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- *Optional: When at room temperature, seal the crust by brushing with a bit of apricot glaze.
Cream Cheese Custard Filling
- Place cream cheese and butter in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan filled with a few cups of simmering water. (Do not have the bowl touch the water). Whisk constantly until the cheese and butter have melted.
- Take the heatproof bowl off the saucepan (and turn off the heat for the simmering water). Whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, egg and yogurt one by one making sure each ingredient is incorporated well without clumps before adding the next one.
- Finally, whisk and in the vanilla extra and lemon juice.
- Place the cream cheese mixture back onto a saucepan filled with simmering water. Continue to whisk for several minutes until the mixture thickens and the mixture will stick to the whisk. The texture will be like custard.
- Take the heatproof bowl off the saucepan. Cover with plastic and cool until room temperature.*Tip: You can speed up the process by pouring the custard mixture into a new bowl (that is not warm) and placing it into a larger bowl filled with water and ice.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Pour the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag (or ziploc bag with the tip cut off).
- Pipe the mixture equally into the 8 muffin tart crusts.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat an egg yolk. Brush the egg yolk on to the top off the 8 cheese tarts. Place the muffin pan into the oven for about 6-8 minutes or until the cheese custard filling has set.
- Option: If you want to slightly brown the top of the tarts, take the muffin pan out. Heat your oven on broil and when your oven is ready, stick the muffin pan to the very top rack of the oven for about 45 seconds. Keep a close eye on the tarts as it can burn quickly.