Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Tart

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake TartSometimes I have a story I really want to tell you. Sometimes, I have a recipe that goes with that story. And other times, like today, there is no story. Unless you count the story of how I made this tart. And perhaps in reading about my thought process and a couple of hiccups along the way, you will be inspired to tell your own story. Write it in dessert. It's tastier that way.

Here goes:

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake TartJump to recipeYesterday, I was pondering  what to do with the couple of handfuls of blackberries that I've been able to pick this season. I didn't have a ton, so I needed to stretch them a bit. I had two ideas. The first was to cook most of them down into a syrup, line a small mold with soft bread and then let the syrup soak in. Then, I was going to whip some cream and fold in some chopped blackberries and use that as a filling for the small mold.

Idea number two was to take the chocolate cheese pie and turn it into a summery tart. I asked the gang over on facebook, and everyone---almost everyone, anyway---asked for the tart. And here we are.

This was a pretty experimental tart, friends. I knew the cheesecake part would be fine, and I was confident about the sour cream topping, but the berries? I didn't have enough to make a thick layer, which is really what I wanted. And I didn't have enough to cook them down so they'd thicken up nicely either. So, I cooked them for  awhile, strained them, smashing down on the solids, and found that I had about 1/2 cup of puree. Not a lot.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake TartThe only starch thickeners I own, flour, corn starch and potato starch, would thicken it up okay, but I knew the puree would get chalky upon cooling, and I didn't want that, so I ended up blooming a scant 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin in a tablespoon of water and dissolving that into the puree.

My thought was that if I could chill it in an ice bath, it would be thick enough to pour and spread on top of the cheesecake layer. And then I realized that spreading it onto a hot pie was only going to melt it again. Fine.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake TartI decided to just do the best I could at covering the berry layer with the sour cream layer, but the sour cream had other ideas. Since it was thicker, it shoved the puree out of its way so I ended up with puree all around the edges of the tart and the sour cream in the middle. At this point, I grumbled and grabbed a fork and marbled everything together, being careful not to get too gung ho with the marbling so I wouldn't ruin the cheesecake layer underneath.

And just so you know, I had just enough too much puree and sour cream to send some oozing over the edges of the tart pan and all over the baking sheet. Fine. I shoved the newly marbled tart back into the oven for ten minutes so the sour cream would set up, and then I kept my fingers crossed the the gelatin would do its thing.

Happily, the gelatin did do what it was supposed to do. When chilled it provided me with a lovely gel that was very close in texture to the sour cream. Nice.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake TartThis tart is really, really tasty. If you don't have access to blackberries, go with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, or a mixture of your favorites. And if you don't have the Italian short bread cookies that I used, use graham crackers or vanilla wafers. Or the kind of shortbread that you have.

If you're a fan of cheesecake but think it's a bit heavy for summer, this really fits the bill. All the flavor without all the commitment of eating a 2" thick slab. Plus fruit!

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Tart
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A rather dramatic swirl of blackberry puree and sweetened, lemon-spiked sour cream tops a thin layer of cheesecake. The whole thing is baked in a thin shortbread crust. If you are a fan of fruit topped cheesecake, you will love this. I promise.
What You Need
For the Crust
  • 20 or so crisp/crunchy cookies (enough to get 1½ cups of crumbs. I used an Italian shortbread made by Barilla)
  • zest of ¼ lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 oz butter, melted
For the Cheesecake
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¾-1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like things)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 drops lemon extract
For the Berry Puree (Remember, make your favorite the way you like it. After all, it's your tart)
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • ¼ cup Moscato (I used Yellow Tail)
  • pinch of salt
  • a couple of scrapings of lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • enough sugar to make it as sweet as you want it
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • scant ½ teaspoon plain gelatin dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
For the Sour Cream Topping
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • enough sugar to make it as sweet as you like it
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • a couple of scrapings of lemon zest
  • 2 drops lemon extract
What To Do
For the Crust
  1. Put the cookies, zest and salt in your food processor and process until you have made lemon-scented cookie dust.
  2. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until you have sort of a damp sand situation on your hands. Make sure the crumbs hold together when you squeeze them.
  3. Set a 9" tart pan on a cookie sheet.
  4. Press the crumbs evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I didn't have enough cookies to go all the way up, but things worked out fine anyway.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Remove and set aside.
For the Cheesecake
  1. Since you have the food processor out, give it a quick wash and combine all the cheesecake ingredients in the processor.
  2. Pulse until you have a smooth batter. This won't take long. Remember to scrape the bowl, just in case.
  3. Pour evenly into the bottom of the tart pan.
  4. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes.
For the Berry Puree
  1. Place all ingredients except the gelatin/water mixture in a pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Taste for sweetness and balance, and continue to cook until the berries reduce slightly.
  3. Press the berries through a fine mesh strainer, pressing hard on the solids and being sure to scrape the back of the strainer to get all the thicker puree off and into your bowl. You should have about ½ cup of puree.
  4. While the puree is still hot, stir in the bloomed gelatin until it has completely dissolved.
For the Sour Cream Topping
  1. Whisk together all topping ingredients, tasting for sweetness and balance.
  2. Set aside so the sugar can dissolve. Whisk occasionally until the mixture is completely smooth.
To Finish
  1. Once the cheesecake is just barely jiggly in the center--and I mean barely--pull the oven rack out so you won't hurt yourself.
  2. Have a fork ready.
  3. Pour on the berry puree as evenly as you can. It will be pretty thin, so just do the best you can. It will probably want to pool in the center.
  4. Try to evenly blob on the sour cream topping, making sure it spreads all the way to the edge of your pan.
  5. Gently marble the two mixtures together with your fork, taking care not to stab into the cheesecake layer.
  6. Bake another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating until well chilled.
  8. Don't even think about slicing this guy for at least 6-8 hours.
  9. Then, slice away, or just dive in with your fork. I won't tell.


I know it seems like there are a lot of steps, and I guess there are, but it's not a hard tart to make. This would be a wonderful "ta da" dessert to serve at a summer party. Or just because. Please, do give it a try, and let me know how you made your version.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Tart


Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Tart






  1. Modern Mrs. Cleaver says

    For real!!! I’m speechless…that doesn’t happen often. I’m giving you a virtual (only I’m really doing it) First bump and dog pound thingy. Arsenio Hall style!

    • says

      That’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer. It all depends on if it will set up to a sliceable consistency after a few minutes in the oven. fortunately, that’s easy to test. Sacrifice a spoonful, sweetened w/sugar, and bake it at 350F for 5-10 minutes and see if it sets up once cool. Good luck, and enjoy the pie!

  2. Ally says

    Always a masterpiece from my Jenni! I also love hearing your voice about how these creations come about…it’s like being in your purrdeee littl’ head, and that’s how I learn! Thanks for sharing so much of your talents w/all of us who adore you!

    • says

      I’ll need more information to help you troubleshoot. What recipe were you using, and what was the specific procedure? Feel free to email me the specifics to onlinepastrychef at yahoo dot com and I’ll help if I can!


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