Readers, it’s June. And do you know what happens in June?
I’m a junk food junkie, guys. I will admit it. My foods of choice, if I’m being totally irresponsible, tend to be carb and cheese laden calorie bombs. But my goodness, I love fresh strawberries. They are like nature’s candy. Around this time of year, all I can think about are strawberry recipes. Strawberry salads. Strawberry pies. Strawberry cake. Strawberry chicken.
So when I found this recipe for Strawberry Ricotta Tartlets over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make them. My friends and I were having a poem-sharing gathering, so I decided this was the perfect early summer treat to bring.
One note about these: They are excellent for sharing. They are reasonably simple to make and look very complicated. They are also really really pretty when assembled. BUT if you are going to be bringing these somewhere, don’t even think about trying to assemble them before you travel. These are a bit messy (what with the delicious, runny, sticky strawberry syrup). So I packed each ingredient (grahams, ricotta spread, and strawberry topping) in individual tupperware containers and then allowed my friends to kind of create their own!
Strawberry Ricotta Graham Tartlets
1 cup, plus 2 tbs all purpose flour (plus a little extra for rolling out)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of ground cloves (Guys. I know cloves are expensive and for a “pinch” you might consider skipping this if you don’t already have them in your kitchen. I’m going to strongly encourage you to go ahead and get them anyway. For one, they’re a good thing to have in your kitchen; they can add a lot of warmth to a surprising amount of recipes. For another, they are surprisingly crucial in making these grahams taste like grahams. Also, I made a pretty generous “pinch.”)
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened (this might be the least butter I have ever asked you to add to a baked good)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1. In a bowl, whisk together both flours, the cinnamon, salt and cloves.
2. Beat the butter and brown and granulated sugars at medium speed until fluffy. Add the honey and beat for another 30 seconds.
3. Beat in the flour mixture at low speed until just incorporated. Don’t worry if your dough seems a little piece-y. This is a sticky dough, and when you form it together, it will stick. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and put in the fridge for about an hour.
4. After an hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. At this point, this becomes very much like making sugar cookies. The recipe suggests a 3 or 3 1/2 inch round, but I realized how few grahams that was going to get me, so I used a 2 3/4 inch round biscuit cutter. I ended up getting about 2 dozen grahams with that.
6. Bake grahams for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool completely before you form your tarts.
1 lb strawberries
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1. Hull and thinly slice your strawberries.
2. Toss sliced strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. I ended up actually using Meyer Lemon juice, because I currently have a meyer lemon tree in my back yard.
3. Allow the strawberries to sit for about 20 minutes so that they form their own syrup.
1 tub of full fat ricotta cheese
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
2 tsp lemon zest (Smitten Kitchen specifies “finely grated” but I like being able to see the little threads of zest in my ricotta) (Also, I have a citrus zester, but just a reminder that you can easily use a cheese grater if you don’t.)
1. Mix the ricotta, the zest, and the confectioners sugar together. I had a little bit of a spill and ended up with closer to 3 tbsp of sugar in my ricotta (whoops). It was a little sweet to my tastes, but when combined with everything else it turned out just fine.
Here’s the fun part. You just add a little of the ricotta spread onto the graham base. Then top with strawberries. Drizzle a little extra syrup on and enjoy.
I cannot describe to you how much better these are than the sum of their (admittedly also delicious) parts. The ricotta just sort of melts into this creamy compliment to the strawberries, which really brighten up next to the graham, which offers just the right amount of spicy crunch. They seem very sophisticated (ricotta! fruit! home baked crackers!) but they’re very simple and still incredibly satisfying.