Strawberries are in season now in California (even in my little garden) and the markets are filled with them. One of my favorite desserts on this site is a mascarpone mousse with strawberries in a balsamic syrup. The combination of balsamic vinegar and sweetened strawberries is one of those heaven-made matches that you simply must try if you haven’t already. (Sprinkle a little good quality, aged balsamic over some sugar macerated strawberries and you’ll see what I mean.) Combine that with a sweetened mascarpone base, and it’s just, well, really really good. Like eat the whole batch and forget about dinner good.
This week I experimented with putting these ingredients to work in a strawberry tart, happily for the family (dad had a box of strawberry jello out on the kitchen counter to prepare and when I told him I was making a strawberry tart, he said, “well, if you must,” smiled, and put the box away.) I made a tart crust using my standard pâte brisée recipe in a tart pan and also experimented with some frozen puff pastry. Both work fine, I loved the taste and flakey texture of the puff pastry though I had a bit of trouble rolling it out to a size large enough to hold a comparable amount of filling and strawberries as the tart pan. My advice is to just use a crust you are most comfortable with. You’ll need to bake the crust first, as this tart is a no-bake tart. I experimented with mascarpone and ricotta combinations, my preference is straight mascarpone for the tart, but experiment and see what you like.
Strawberry Mascarpone Tart Recipe
You can bake the tart shell a day ahead of time, keep at room temperature (do not chill). Fill the shell with filling and strawberries just before serving.
- 1 recipe pie dough (see Pâte Brisée recipe, increase sugar to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, whisked
Filling and Glaze
- 2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and quartered
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 12 ounces mascarpone cheese (can also use 8 ounces mascarpone mixed in with 4 ounces of ricotta or 4 ounces of whipped cream)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (substitute a teaspoon of lemon juice if you don't have balsamic)
1a Using Pie Dough Roll out the pie dough and line a 10-inch tart pan with the dough. Prick the bottom of the shell all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill at least two-thirds with pie weights - dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights. Bake initially for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, let cool enough to handle, and remove the aluminum foil or parchment paper and pie weights. Return to oven and cook until lightly browned at the edges, about 20 more minutes. Let cool completely.
1b Using Puff Pastry Roll out puff pastry sheet to 15x5 inches or 12x12 inches. Place on a baking sheet. Fold the edges over to form a border. Prick bottom of pasty with tines of a fork. Chill for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a pastry brush to brush on egg wash over exposed surfaces. Place in hot oven and cook until nicely browned all over, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven to a rack, let cool completely.
2 Gently combine strawberries, half of the orange zest, and the granulated sugar in large bowl so that the strawberries are coated with sugar. Let sit to macerate for 30 minutes.
3 Mix together the mascarpone cheese, confectioner's sugar, the remaining orange zest, lemon juice and the vanilla in a medium bowl until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.
4 After the strawberries have macerated for 30 minutes, place a sieve over a bowl and drain the liquid out of the strawberry mixture into the bowl. Take that strawberry liquid and put it in a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Boil until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of syrup, remove from heat and let cool.
5 Assemble the tart. Spread the mascarpone mixture over the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the strawberries on top of the mascarpone mixture. Use a pastry brush to brush on the balsamic glaze.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.