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Learn how to make creamy and delicious Japanese baked cheese tarts

Japanese baked cheese tarts

Learn how to make Hokkaido baked cheese tarts that taste as delicious as the original from Japan. A creamy baked lava cheese center oozes out of perfect flaky shortcrust.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 12 tarts


  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 medium pot
  • 1 baking sheet
  • 2 in. mini tart tin mold (muffin tin will work in a pinch, see recipe notes)
  • Hand or stand mixer
  • Parchment paper or aluminum foil


For the tart crust

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 egg yolk

For the cheese filling

  • 3.5 oz (100g) cream cheese
  • 3.5 oz (100g) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup (30g) Cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
  • 2 tbsp (30g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (80g) milk
  • 1/4 cup (30g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten

For egg wash

  • 1 egg, beaten


Make the tart crusts

  • Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt on medium until light and fluffy. Add flour and lemon zest and beat on low speed until the flour is well-incorporated. Add egg yolk and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Press the dough into your tart molds, creating a crust about 1/4 in. thick. Make sure the dough it is evenly distributed to avoid uneven thickness. Chill in the freezer for at least one hour.

Make the cheese filling

  • Sift together powdered sugar and corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a double boiler, add the cream cheese, mascarpone, cheddar cheese, milk and butter. You can make a double boiler by placing a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot of water on medium heat. Cook until the cheeses melt, stirring frequently.
  • Add sugar and corn starch to the cheese mix, stirring frequently until incorporated. Add in egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice, stirring as you add.
  • Continue cooking for 15 - 20 minutes on medium heat until the mixture has thickened into a custard-like consistency. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the filling to prevent a film from forming. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Bake the tart shells

  • After making the filling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the tart shells from the freezer and bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove and let cool to room temperature. Remove from the tart molds before filling.

Fill the tart shells

  • Once both the tart shells and filling are cooled ,use a piping bag or spoon, to fill the tart shells. Make sure the center of the filling domes slightly higher than the edge of the crust.
  • Dab the tops of the tarts with egg wash. Set your oven to a high broil and place your tarts on the 3rd rack, so that there is about 8 inches between the rack and the broiler. Broil for 2-5 minutes until the top of the cheese is bubbling and charred. If your crust is browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil and leave an opening for the filling.
  • Remove and let cool. If you enjoy a gooey lava center, serve immediately. Otherwise, chill until the center is firm.


Tart tin vs muffin tin
  • These tarts are easiest to make if you have a tart mold with a removable bottom. In a pinch, a muffin tin will work, however, the tart shells could be difficult to get out. If using a muffin tin, chill the crust for 10 minutes before attempting to remove. Use a sharp, thin knife to separate the crust from the sides of the tin.
Ingredient substitutions
  • I use whole milk and full fat cream cheese to get a really rich flavor. Other types of milk or cream cheese will likely work, but the filling might not taste as creamy.
  • I use mascarpone because it has an "elevated" flavor compared to cream cheese that makes this more similar to the original Japanese cheese tart. The filling will likely still turn out if you replace the mascarpone with cream cheese.
Keyword cheese tart, hokkaido