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As nature intended: Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

strawberry and marscapone tart

Those of you who follow my Sunday shopping posts will know that I’ve been buying a lot of strawberries lately. I can never resist them at the market- all plump and red and juicy, mocking me with their deliciousness. Well ok, maybe they’re not mocking me, exactly, but it does seem that they have some particular hold over me. And a little fruit personification never hurt anyone, right?

Right. I’ve been using these strawberries in a variety of ways: as jam in danishes, stewed with dumplings, in my morning smoothie. It occurred to me the other day, though, that I’m always mushing, stewing or otherwise deforming my lovely strawberries, and, you know, why? So I decided that the next batch from the market were not to be touched by heat, nor potato masher, nor blender. These berries would be pure, fresh and as nature intended them to be.

Of course, that idea lasted about ten minutes before I got bored. Aside from the fact that I actually like cooking, having a food blog has made me immediately wary of any too-simple recipe. You know the kind: mix a pint of chopped strawberries with the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of sugar and toss to coat. Serve with cream. Delicious, yes (I actually grew up on this dessert), but blog-worthy? No. I’ve got readers to impress, people! (Not that many, but still.)

The solution presented itself while I was flipping though the Jamie’s Italy book I borrowed from my local library last week (check Kitchlit tomorrow for a review). I saw a recipe for Torta di more (blackberry tart), and felt that this was it: the fruit left fresh and raw, but the tart base suitably fancy. I’m not sure if nature in fact did intend strawberries to be nestled into a creamy bed of liqueur-scented mascarpone atop a sweet butter pastry crust, but if it didn’t, it should have. 

strawberry and marscapone tarts

Besides subbing strawberries for the blackberries, I made a few minor alterations to Jamie’s recipe. I didn’t have any of the grappa he calls for, but felt that I could do better than that, anyway. Instead I reached for a bottle of Southern Comfort, the fruity whiskey-like liqueur that we keep around in the summer. (I think a splash of Pimm’s would be good, too.) As for the tart case, I merely simplified it a bit, leaving out the lemon zest and vanilla, and reducing the sugar. 

The original recipe was for an 11″ tart. As I only have a 9″ tin, I used the excess dough to line several muffin cups, making a bunch of cute mini-tarts, as well. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s infinitely adaptable- make several smaller tarts of a whole slew of individual ones, use different fruit, vary the liqueur in the filling- the possibilities are endless. I’m already thinking about how delicious a chocolate mascarpone filling would be…

Ok, ignore me. Clearly I have issues. Just go make this, you won’t be sorry you did!

strawberry marscapone mini tarts

  • Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
  • adapted from this recipe by Jamie Oliver
  • makes one 11″ tart (or one 9″ tart plus 5 mini-tarts)
  • Sweet Tart Case
    270g plain flour
    85g icing sugar
    pinch salt
    125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
    1 egg
    2 Tbs. cold milk 
  • Tart Filling
    300g mascarpone
    80ml single cream
    2 Tbs. sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 Tbs. Southern Comfort, Pimm’s, or other spice-and-fruit flavoured liqueur
    300g fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 1. To make the pastry, mix the flour, icing sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Using your fingers (or a food processor) work in the pieces of butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Work quickly and don’t overblend- you want some pieces of butter still visible. 

    2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and cold milk with a fork until combined. Pour over the flour mixture and, with a spoon or your hands, mix together until uniform. Don’t overwork at this point- it may still be crumbly, but that’s okay. Gather dough quickly into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for half an hour. 

    3. When you’re ready to make your tart case, coat the tin(s) with a bit of butter and remove the dough from the fridge. Roll out to a thickness of about 1/4″, using a floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Gently lift the dough and press into the tin, trimming the excess from the top. If you have a lot of excess, you can roll it out again, cut into smaller rounds (by hand or with a 3 1/2″ pastry cutter), and use it to line some muffin cups, to make some smaller tarts. 

    4. Line your tart cases with parchment paper and fill them with baking beans or uncooked rice. Place into the freezer for about an hour. (I use the fridge as my freezer isn’t big enough for a tart case!)

    5. About 20 minutes before you’re ready to bake your tart case(s), preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Bake for 10 minutes with the parchment paper, and a further 5 without. Set aside to cool, first in the tin and then (carefully!) on a cooling rack. 

    6. To make the filling, mix the mascarpone, cream, sugar, vanilla and liqueur together in a large bowl or jug. Test the consistancy- it should be thick and creamy, but spreadable. If it seems too thick to spread nicely in the tart case, add some cold milk, bit by bit, until you’re happy with the texture. 

    7. When the tart cases are completely cooled, transfer them to serving plates. There isn’t much rhyme or reason to the filling of these: just pour in the mascarpone mixture, spread it around so it reaches the case edge, and scatter/arrange the strawberries on top, as artfully or rustically as you like. Keeps in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it, but best served within a few hours, and polished off within 24.   

     

11 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Man this looks good! Now I’m really hungry… (Oh wait I’m always hungry)

  2. Ashley says:

    Mmm gorgeous tart! I’m obsessed with mascarpone though I so very rarely buy it because it’s expensive.

  3. Dawn says:

    It looks fantastic Ele!! I have the Jamie Italy cookbook and I am quite impressed with some of the recipes in it- especially the Spaghetti alla Trapanese.

  4. Ele says:

    Chris- Hey! You should make this, it tastes as good as it looks. Actually, make that better.

    Ashley- I know what you mean. I was lucky enough to get a huge tub of it on sale last week. It only took me about 3 days to use it all up, worryingly.

    Dawn- Hi, it’s so great to “see” you over here! ;) I really love the Jamie’s Italy book- I really don’t want to return it to the library at the end of the month. I checked out the Spaghetti alla Trapanese- it looks so good! Will have to make that before the book goes home.

  5. rose says:

    “having a food blog has made me immediately wary of any too-simple recipe. ” HAHAHA – isn’t that the truth?! Sometimes I just want to make something simple and my boyfriend reminds me that my teeny, tiny readership doesn’t want to hear about some ‘basic, easy’ dinner that anyone could do in 5 minutes.

    I love fresh summery tarts using a nice basic pastry dough & nicely flavored (i.e. booze & zest) mascarpone. YUM! Well done.

  6. Michelle says:

    I’ve been looking for something like this and it looks perfect – will try tonight. As everything with me needs chocolate, may try brushing the pastry case with dark melted chocolate – you never know!

  7. [...] that the strawberries are back. They were absent from the market for the last few weeks (I think I ate them all), but now they’re back in full force. I’ve got an idea for how to use these, based on a [...]

  8. [...] balance the cake and keep things interesting. The only problem with this dessert is that, well- I’ve made it before. Sure, that time it was a tart, not a cake, and yes, it had a successful mascarpone filling instead [...]

  9. [...] my no-fruit rule are subtle but concrete: I like fruit-based desserts if the fruit in question is raw, baked but structurally intact, or else cooked and mushed beyond recognition. This last stipulation [...]

  10. [...] Why start now, you may wonder. Why jump on a bandwagon that’s arguably already on its way to the car park of passé trends? I claim coercion: the strawberries made me do it. There’s just something about those plump little fruits, with their fat bottoms and bright blush, that compels me to celebrate their beauty. [...]

  11. This looks great. I will try it.