Nailed It or Failed It: Cherry cheese tarts

For the last couple of years, I asked for a tart pan for Christmas.

I was hoping for a round or rectangle pan with a removable bottom; one that I could use to bake a full-size tart which is similar to a pie but not as thick.

Christmas 2017 came and went without Santa bringing me one, so it went back on my wish list for 2018.

Christmas Day arrived. Brad handed me a present, and I began tearing the paper off. Once all the paper was off, I was staring at a 12-cup mini cheesecake pan.

I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face because not only had I not asked for one of these, I’d never even heard of one.

When I mentioned to him, it wasn’t something I was expecting he said, “Well, you have no idea how hard it was to find a tart pan.”

I immediately realized I hadn’t communicated well and he had no idea what a tart pan was.

As we talked about the gift, I realized he thought when I mentioned the tart pan, I was talking about individual tarts, or small pies, and with help from some of his female co-workers, they had come up with this cute pan.

The pan included today’s recipe for cherry cheese tarts.

Cherry Cheese Tarts


1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup ground nuts

1/3 stick melted butter

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 can cherry pie filling


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease or use nonstick spray to prepare Mini Cheesecake Pan. Blend cream cheese with egg, vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside. Mix ground nuts with butter and three tablespoons sugar. Divide mixture evenly among the 12 cups.

Press crumbs on bottom and about 1/3 up the sides of each cup. Fill evenly with cheese mixture. Bake about 14 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and place on rack to cool approximately 20 minutes. The tops will fall as they cool. Lightly loosen the cheese tarts around the edges. Remove the cheesecakes by pushing the handle of a wooden spoon through the hole at the bottom of each cup.

When cool, take disc off of the bottom of the cheesecakes using a butter knife. Place cherries on the top of each tart. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The picture of the tarts looked yummy, and I told Brad I’d try making them soon. Soon came when we had our Christmas gathering with our children and grandchildren.

The day before our gathering, I greased the individual cups of the pan and began putting the recipe together.

This pan is for mini tarts, so there is a hole in the bottom of each cup. You place a metal disc, which is included with the pan, in the bottom of each cup which helps remove the baked goods and make them look pretty.

The recipe calls for ground nuts. If using a blender to grind the nuts, don’t let your mixer go too long or you will end up with nut paste.

Once the nuts were a nice consistency, I added three tablespoons of sugar and the melted butter.

I divided the nut mixture between the 12 individual cups of the tart pan and gently pressed the mix on the bottom and up the sides of each cup.

Next, it was time to prepare the filling. The cream cheese was already soft, so I put it in a medium-sized bowl along with the egg, vanilla and the remaining one-fourth of a cup of sugar.

I combined the ingredients, and once it was smooth, I scooped it into the nut-filled cups.

I baked the tarts for 14 minutes and then removed them from the oven to cool.

The recipe said to let them cool in the pan for 20 minutes, but I let them cool about 40 minutes.

Instead of using a wooden spoon handle to push the tarts out of the pan, I used my index finger. The tarts came out of the pan as smooth as silk.

When the tarts were cool, I used a butter knife to remove the metal disc from the bottom of each tart. I stored them in a container in the refrigerator until we were ready to eat them the next day.

Before serving, I opened a can of cherry pie filling. I put the pie filling on a few of the tarts and then decided to leave some plain.

Instead of putting cherries on all of the tarts I put the rest of the pie filling in a small bowl next to them so whoever wanted cherries could have them.

I like cherry pie filling, so I sneaked a bite before everyone arrived. I thought it tasted funny so I grabbed the can and saw the word “lite” on the label.

I was glad I hadn’t put a scoop on each one of the cheesecake tarts.

When dessert time rolled around, the tarts were a hit.

In the end, I didn’t have to ask anyone if they liked this dessert because they came back for seconds and were saying, “These are good.”

I nailed this recipe despite the lite pie filling. The recipe only makes 12, and I can share and not worry about the dessert staring me in the face every night saying, “Come on, one little tart won’t hurt you.”

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.