I was flipping through the Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Baking cookbook, and I noticed this awesome recipe for little desserts made using the Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix. Isn’t it great when you find out a box in your cupboard can be used for something new and interesting, like these crunchy, creamy little morsels? But Key-lime treats from a box of apple cinnamon muffin mix? Seems unusual, which is exactly why I needed to check them out. (I’m still not sure – should I call them cookies? I think they’re more like little tarts, or tartlets!) Regardless of the name or their unusual beginning, these tartlets are deliciously fantastic and so easy to make.
Whenever I modify a recipe for my taste, no matter what it is, I usually reduce the amount of sugar—I love sweets, but when they’re too overwhelmingly sweet it makes my teeth hurt! In this recipe, the mild, nutty sweetness of the chewy, buttery crust, studded with its tiny apple chunks, the creaminess of the cheese filling with its intensely tart lime flavor, these flavors shine through beautifully even with a little less sugar in the mix.
Other things that drew me to this recipe were how quickly it comes together, and how few ingredients it uses. Even though it’s a two-part process, it’s so simple.
First, in one bowl, blend together the crust ingredients until uniformly crumbly. Some of the crumbs are the dried apple chunks from the muffin mix.
Spoon these crumbs by the heaping teaspoon into paper-lined mini-muffin cups and then press them down with a thumb to pack them tightly.
Make sure you don't try to cram all the crust mixture in one pan of 24 tartlets—it just won't fit! If you have a kitchen like mine, there’s only space for one mini-muffin tin in between all the spring form pans, pie pans, that special Bundt pan you bought on sale, cake pans of every size . . . Anyway, it probably means you’ll be doing two batches or tartlets, one with 24 and one with 12 in order to use the whole mixture. Just be aware as you’re divvying out the crust and filling.
Bake the crusts for 8 minutes, and then let them cool a bit.
Meanwhile, make up the filling – just take all the filling ingredients and blend them until smooth. Easy-peasy.
Did I mention that by using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, you save one-third of the fat? Just food for thought.
Spoon the prepared filling by the teaspoon on top of each of the baked crusts. Sprinkle a little extra lime zest on top, and then it’s time to bake again.
And that’s it! Let them cool completely before removing from the pan, and be aware that they will stick to the wrapper unless they’re nice and cold, so pop them in the fridge before enjoying. I know it’s hard when they’re so pretty and tiny and inviting.
I think a perfect afternoon treat would be to take a break from the growing heat outside, pull one of these cool, creamy lime-flavored bites out of the fridge, kick back with a glass of iced tea, and relax. I’m going to have to make that happen soon.
Gluten Free Key Lime Tartlets
Preheat oven 350oF. In a large bowl, beat crust ingredients together until crumbly. Place paper liners in mini muffin tin. Press a heaping teaspoon of crust mixture into each muffin liner until packed (don't forget, you’ll be making 36 tartlets, not 24, so portion your mix accordingly.) Liners will be about ⅓ full when packed. Bake 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in another large bowl, blend together all filling ingredients (cream cheese, sugar, egg, lime zest and juice) with an electric mixer. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into each liner on top of each prebaked crust. Fill each liner until about ¾ full, and remember to reserve ⅓ of the total mixture for the last 12 tartlets. Add some lime zest on top and bake 10 minutes or until firm. Cool in pan. Carefully lift each tartlet from muffin tin to serve. For best results, paper liners remove easier when tartlets have been chilled before serving.
Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. If desired, replace ½ of the Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix with Milled Flaxseed with ground nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts.
Makes 36 tartlets.