Friday, January 22, 2010

Not Just a Tart . . . She's a Raspberry Honey Mascarpone Tart!

Until one frosty morning last week, I had never purchased it. It's a bit out of my usual grocery price range, and a girl has to draw the line somewhere. Start buying mascarpone cheese on a regular basis and before you know it you're dipping into your kid's piggy bank for spare change. It's a slippery slope. But you can't wait forever to procure interesting ingredients, especially if you're looking to expand your baking and pastry repertoire. Expenditure comes with the territory.

And so, with the temporary mindset of a woman in possession of a much fatter wallet, I tossed the hefty little container in my shopping cart and foraged on. I wandered down the baking aisle. Enticing items beckoned their way into my basket . . . locally produced pastry flour, natural demarara cane sugar, imported instant yeast. All overpriced, but I bought them anyway.

Once at home, I tucked my stash away like a squirrel who'd been ferreting acorns. Except for the mascarpone cheese, that is. I had plans for the mascarpone cheese.

About those plans . . .

This recipe hails from A Passion for Desserts by pastry chef Emily Luchetti, a beautiful book. The only alteration I made included the addition of a tiny bit of Chambord, which is a sweet raspberry liqueur, to the raspberry sauce. And, since I didn't have several small individual tart pans, I used just two 8" tart pans instead. I also reworded the instructions to some extent.

You'll love this simple tart. The filling is luscious, with perfectly balanced flavor. The pastry is buttery and flaky, but firm enough to hold up its end of the tart bargain, and the raspberry sauce is like summertime on your tongue. You can't go wrong.

Raspberry Honey Mascarpone Tart
Makes either two 8" round tarts, or four 4" tarts.

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

For the tart shell dough:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
pinch of salt
10 Tbsp. (5 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 large egg

Combine all ingredients except cream and egg in a large bowl. Using two knives or a hand-held pastry blender, cut in the butter until it's the size of small peas. Whisk the cream and egg together in a small bowl. Pour that into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the dough comes together. (You can also assemble this dough in a food processor, but if you do that just be very careful not to over-process it, pulsing only as much as necessary for the dough to cohere.)

Dump the dough out of the bowl onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a 5 to 6 inch disk, wrap it well, and refrigerate it for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When you're ready to roll the dough out, lightly flour your work surface. Divide the dough as needed to fit your tart pans. (Note from Jane: I divided it evenly in two for my 8" pans, and there was no dough leftover. I rolled out two circles about 10" in circumference. It was about 1/8" thick all over. For very small tarts the dough should be rolled a bit thinner.)

Roll out your dough, then lift it carefully and place it over your tart pans, pressing the dough gently against the sides. Trim off any excess dough cleanly at the top rim.

Cut out parchment circles--you'll need one for each pan--that are at least three inches larger than the tart pans themselves. Place the parchment circles in the pans, and fill them with weights (I used dry beans).

Place the weight-filled pans onto a cookie sheet and bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, just until the top edges start to turn golden brown but don't remove them from the oven yet. At that point, grasp the excess parchment above the pan rim, and using the paper as a handle, slowly lift the beans in the paper circles out of the tart shells and set them aside. Continue baking the empty tart shells for about ten more minutes so the bottom crust can brown as well.

Remove them from the oven and let the tart shells cool in their pans, on a rack. They must be completely cooled before you fill them.

For the mascarpone honey cream filling:

8 oz. (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. good-quality honey (I used wildflower honey)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until thick. Keep this mixture covered and chilled until you're ready to spread it in your tart shells.

For the raspberry sauce:

One 12 oz. bag of frozen whole raspberries, no sugar added, defrosted
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur, like Chambord (optional)

Puree the defrosted raspberries completely in a food processor. Strain the puree over a bowl with a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds. Stir in the sugar, and the liqueur if using. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Keep this chilled until you're ready to serve the tarts.

To assemble the tarts:

You'll need the baked tart shells, the chilled mascarpone cream, the raspberry sauce, and at least 6 oz. of whole, fresh raspberries.

Spoon the cold mascarpone mixture evenly into each tart shell, one by one, and smooth it out, filling the shell to the edges. Serve each small individual tart, or each slice of tart, with a few fresh raspberries, and use the sauce either as a garnish around the tart on the plate, or drizzled over the tart. (Note from Jane: I put the sauce in a food-safe plastic squirt bottle and used that to easily make the little dotted design on the plates. The sauce is so delicious, however, you might find that your diners request more of it while they're munching on this dessert, so you may want to keep any extra sauce close at hand!)

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