Friday, April 9, 2010

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

It's official everyone! The strawberry fields at Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls are officially open. Since I've been hankering (to put it mildly) for fresh strawberries for about a month, we headed out the second day the farm was open. Sure enough, as soon as we got there, it started raining. The above picture is exactly how muddy one mother and two children (who didn't even pick any strawberries) can get while picking strawberries. (Curtis and little I stayed in the car during the rain shower). After having our shoes get stuck in the mud, we abandoned them at the end of a row and picked in barefeet. It was glorious.

We picked about 15 pounds worth of berries. I had absolutely no plans on making strawberry freezer jam--Easter weekend is too hectic to throw jam in the mix as well, even if the jam is incredibly simple to make. We ate homemade strawberry shortcake for breakfast Saturday morning and oodles of just plain strawberries. We gave some berries away to neighbors. About 2 pounds were set aside for a Strawberry Mascarpone Tart.

I am looking for the perfect strawberry dessert. Curtis pointed out it doesn't get much better than homemade strawberry ice cream or strawberry shortcake. I need a dessert with a crust. I am not in love with the strawberry pie recipe I've made. Only way I like it is if my mom makes it. She's 1500 miles or so away, so that's not happening. I think this recipe comes pretty close. It's not overly sweet. The mascarpone cheese is subtle and not too rich. The strawberries can shine.

I attempted a non-alcoholic version of the glaze and failed miserably. Next time I'll either make the Port glaze or leave it off entirely. The strawberry juice by itself was too thin and ran off the tart onto the cake stand and thus into the crust--not exactly what I was after.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
from Gourmet

For the shell:
1 1/4 c flour
3 T sugar
fat 1/4 t salt
7 T butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t fresh lemon juice
3 T cold water

For the filling:
1 1/2 lbs strawberries, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 c sugar
3/4 c ruby Port (optional)
1 lb mascarpone
1/4 c confectioners sugar
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t grated lemon zest
3/4 t vanilla extract

To make the tart shell: Blend together the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with a pastry blender (or your finger tips or pulse in a food processor---many options!) just until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with a fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together. (You can add some more water if absolutely necessary to get the dough to hold together). Knead gently with floured hands on lightly floured surface until dough forms, then gently knead 4 - 5 more times. Press into 5" disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of 10" fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Pick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Remove from freezer and line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes more. Cool in pan about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Stir together the strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. If using port glaze, add port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced 1/4 c, 10 - 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk together the mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff.

To assemble the tart, spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle port glaze all over tart (if using).

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