Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

Tart of the Matter
When you think of mascarpone cheese what comes to mind? OK, wait. I’m being presumptuous. Does anyone else actually ponder mascarpone cheese? Or is that just me? On second thought, don’t answer that. Let me just live in my happy little bubble where everyone spends significant time considering the wonders of spreadable Italian cheeses…

I love mascarpone cheese. It’s essentially Italy’s cream cheese and I actually like it better than the tried and true Philly cream cheese because it’s got a fresher more mild flavor than the American version. Don’t get me wrong I’m still here for a good cream cheese frosting and you don’t get that with mascarpone. You do however get fantastic things like tiramisu with mascarpone and you can swap out your whipped cream for a dollop of mascarpone next time you find yourself with a bowl of fresh summer berries.

To quote Forest Gump, “Fresh fruits and mascarpone go together like peas and carrots.”

For your tart you can use peaches or plums with raspberries or blueberries. Any combination will work. Strawberries are always insanely good when paired with a little mascarpone. Even better if they come together in a tart. Lately I have enjoyed a mix of all of ‘em.

This recipe for a Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart below is what I call a good start. It’s a basic recipe that can be adapted to suit your own taste. You can play with the crust. Personally, I like to make it with a graham cracker crust or r you could go this route with a rye crust. Our recipe uses a traditional Pâté Sucrée (French sweet pastry) crust.

This is definitely a dessert best prepared and served on the weekend as it doesn’t hold up too well overnight.

Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart
Yields 6 servings

Pâté sucrée is a sweet, crumbly French pastry that is used to make classic French dessert tarts. Our trick for making a perfect crust is chilling it twice—the first time after you form the dough into a disc, and then again once the dough is in the tart pan.

Begin the crust 2 or more hours in advance to include enough time for chilling the dough. Because the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, or frozen for up to 2 months, this is a great do-ahead.

This crust recipe makes enough dough for two 9-inch or 10-inch tart shells. So, you can either bake the extra shell and freeze it, or freeze the extra dough in a tart pan for later use.

For the crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (cold, cut into bits)
2 egg yolks
1 to 4 tablespoons water (with ice, as needed)

For the filling
3-4 cups mixed sliced fresh fruit: strawberries, raspberries, peaches, blackberries or whatever you have on hand
8 ounces chilled mascarpone
1/4 cup vanilla sugar or regular sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Pâté Sucrée (French sweet pastry)
This can be done in a bowl with a pastry cutter or fork, or by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor.

Blend together the flour, sugar, and salt.

Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with bits of butter no larger than peas. Add the egg yolks, and continue blending until the eggs are evenly incorporated and the mixture resembles a fine meal.

Stir in the ice water with a fork, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is just moistened enough to gather and mold into a smooth ball. (Or with the food processor running.)

Divide the dough in half and flatten each portion into a smooth disc. Wrap tightly with plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you prefer. (The dough may also be frozen for up to 2 months.)

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and allow to rest at room temperature (about 15 to 30 minutes). Remove the plastic wrap and, on a pastry cloth or lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit in the tart pan.

Place the dough in the tart pan and press it firmly against the sides and bottom without stretching it. Trim off any excess dough. Cover and chill the dough in the pan for at least 30 minutes before filling and baking.

Bake the crust
Preheat the oven to 375 ºF. Prick the bottom of the tart crust all over with a fork and cover tightly with foil. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake it for for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the edges of the crust are golden brown (about 10 minutes). Allow the crust to cool completely.

Prepare the fruit
Wash and dry your fruit. Next, hull, remove the pits, and slice them, depending on what type of fruit you are using. Gently toss the prepared fruit with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.

Make the filling
While the crust is in the oven, start on the filling. Combine the mascarpone, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla extract and whisk until glossy. Work quickly to keep the mascarpone from getting too warm and separating. Taste and adjust the sugar if necessary. Chill the filling while the crust cools.

Assemble the tart
When the crust has cooled completely, spread the filling over the bottom using a rubber spatula. Next, arrange the mixed fruit on the filling in pleasing pattern, alternating fruit and colors. Return the assembled tart to the fridge if you are not serving it immediately.

The tart is best eaten the day it is made.

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