Merry (almost) Christmas!!!! I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is dessert. There are so many to choose from at this time of year! You have cookies, cakes, pies, candy, and more! And people are practically begging you to eat! The only down side to the many options is that it’s hard to choose what to serve for Christmas dessert. Do you go with an apple pie (one of my personal favorites), a classic buche de noel, decadent bread pudding, or something a little more modern?

I like to change it up from year to year, so this year for Christmas, my main dessert will be cherry tarts. They’re small and easy to eat with your fingers or with a fork. They’re pretty unassuming but they have a lot of flavor and texture for their size. My mom used to make these around Christmas and I’m excited to have them for dessert this year!

The tarts are so easy to make that you could prepare the dough ahead of time and then fill and bake them while everyone’s digesting after dinner. By the time your guests are ready for dessert, the tarts will be ready to devour! Another great thing about this recipe is that it is incredibly versatile. Not a fan of cherry? Try apple, blueberry, or even something more savory. You can also add flavors to the crust; just watch the balance of dry and wet ingredients. This is similar to a pie dough, so you want the dough to be on the drier side but not crumbling.

And I have even more good news for you- today is your lucky day! I don’t usually post recipes that aren’t mine, but this one came from my mom and I am excited to share it with you!

First, pull out your ingredients and let the butter and cream cheese warm a little. You don’t want them completely at room temperature because your dough will get too soft, but you need them workable.

Next, toss all of the ingredients except the pie filling into a bowl and blend. A pastry blender is ideal for this because you can mix everything well without beating the dough to death. If you don’t have a pastry blender, use a combination of a hand mixer (to chop everything up and start the mixing) and your hands to finish blending. I don’t recommend using a mixer the whole time because overbeating can make the dough tough. It’s more forgiving than standard pie dough but you don’t want to beat it to death.

Once everything’s mixed, stick the bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for about an hour. You want the dough to be thoroughly chilled but not rock hard. Once it’s chilled, break the dough into evenly sized balls and smush them into the muffin tins. You should have 12 for a standard sized muffin tin or 6 for a jumbo (which is what I used this time). Once it’s separated, form the dough into the shape of the muffin tin. The dough will be fairly thin, so if you end up with holes just smush the dough around a little more. Don’t get precious about this- you want to move quickly so the dough doesn’t melt on you. They may not win any awards for looks, but any deficiencies in the appearance will be forgiven as soon as you bite into one.

Once the dough is in the tins, add a spoonful of pie filling to each tart. If you go with the jumbo pans it will be closer to 1 ½ spoons. The shells should be about ¾ full- enough for a good bit of filling but not so much they overflow when the dough shrinks during baking.

Once they’re finished and cool, all that’s left is to remove them and enjoy! I do recommend waiting to remove them from the pan until they’re cool- otherwise there’s a decent chance they’ll fall apart on you. If you want to serve them warm, reheat them in the microwave for just a few seconds right before you’re ready to serve.

Cherry Tarts

1 – 3 ounce package cream cheese
¼ pound butter
1 cup flour
1 can cherry pie filling

Step 1: Blend cream cheese, butter and flour
Step 2: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate
Step 3: Mush the dough into the shape of the muffin tin
Step 4: Fill tarts with 1 Tablespoon of pie filling
Step 5: Cool and enjoy!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with these delicious tarts!

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