shortbread tarts with cream and fruit: baking birthdays.

I don't bake a lot. That is pretty evident from my posts. But birthdays, mostly because of alliteration, call for baking. As I had one group of friends over, I baked for another. Tartlets are always a hit at a party - unfortunately mine weren't that good-looking, but sure tasted lovely (shortbread makes everything taste spectacular)! The secret to good shortbreads is to substitute about 1/4 of a cup of flour with 1/4 of a cup of corn starch. This makes them melt, absolutely melt, in your mouth. But shhhhh, don't tell anyone!
After a rousing game of I-have-no-idea-what-they-are-playing-but-Brendan-went-somewhere-sketchy-to-get-it, we ate! Pizzas, in fact. A great Friday-night-with-friends-playing-boardgames meal.
To make these: take foccacia, slice it in half, slather on some basil pesto, throw on some marinated artichoke hearts, reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, sliced tomatoes, caramelized cooked thyme onions and mushrooms, and top it off with cheese. Stick it in the oven at 425 F for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has browned on the top. Take a bite and slowly pull the pizza away - essentially pretend you're on a pizza commercial - it will make it taste a lot better.  
After dinner, wedding photo time. And then I said goodbye to my lovely friends, and went two floors down in my apartment to other delightful amis, one in particular that was celebrating his day of birth.  A night of fun awaited, but needed a little sugar-kick first.
Shortbread Tarts with Cream and Fruit
(Adapted from Joy of Baking) 

1 c. butter, room temp 
1/2 c. icing  sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tbs. cornstarch or rice flour

1 package cream cheese - softened
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. lemon juice (fresh)
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed with a hand mixer. Blend in flour and cornstarch, until fully combined. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
2. Divide the dough into 36 pieces, and place it into muffin tins. Press down, making an indent in the middle. Stick the dough in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

3. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the milk, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Blend. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

4. To serve, spoon the cream cheese mix on the top of a shortbread. Add a couple pieces of candied lemon if desired, or fruit.
5. Pray. Eat. Enjoy. Bake for birthdays.