by Stephanie Zonis
It's June, the height of strawberry season, so why not take advantage of that? When strawberries are at their best, so is this dessert, which consists of an easy crumb crust baked in a tart shell, a quick-to-make creamy filling, a layer of strawberries, and a deep red glaze over the berries that shines with a ruby glow. Pretty as a picture! To make this, you'll need a 9-1/2 inch diameter by 1-inch high round, fluted tart mold. You'll also need a hand-held electric mixer. If you haven't worked with mascarpone before, it's similar to cream cheese, but softer, smoother, and richer. The brand I can find most often is Bel Gioioso, made in Wisconsin, and it works very well in this recipe (of course, if you want to use imported Italian mascarpone, that's fine, too). The strawberries you choose should be the best you can find, as ripe and unbruised as possible. Smaller berries make the tart easier to cut, serve, and eat, but they are not always easy to come by these days. Once made, this tart must chill for at least 30 minutes (uncovered), but it will only hold up for 4 to 6 hours maximum. Note also that the appearance will be best if the whole tart is served at one time.
1-1/3 lightly packed cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 pints fresh strawberries, preferably small in size
8 ounces mascarpone
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup red currant jelly
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Assemble a 9-1/2 inch diameter by 1-inch deep tart mold, and place on the foil-lined cookie sheet.
In medium bowl, combine chocolate wafer crumbs and sugar. with spoon, mix well. Add melted butter and mix thoroughly.
Use about 2/3 of the crumb mixture to form a crust on the sides of the tart mold, pushing it into the flutes of the mold with the back of a spoon or your fingers. My crusts usually extend slightly above the edges of the mold, because they often slide down somewhat while the crust bakes (easy to correct, by the way). Compact the remaining crust mixture on the bottom of the tart mold. Try not to have crust too thick where bottom and sides meet.
Bake crust in preheated oven for 8 minutes, turning back-to-front once after about 4 minutes. Remove from oven; carefully remove tart mold (with crust still inside) to cooling rack. If the crust sides slide down while the crust bakes, correct this immediately, while the crust is still very hot. Use the back of a small spoon to force the crust mixture up the sides again. If this results in any holes in the bottom of the crust, it's easy to push some of the hot crust mixture over the bottom to patch them. Don't drive yourself too crazy over this; just get the sides reasonably high and reasonably even. Cool the crust completely before filling it.
When the crust has cooled completely, carefully pop off the sides of the tart mold. You can remove the bottom of the tart mold now, too, if you're very careful, but I usually leave it on. Either way, place the cooled crust on a flat, round serving platter (not a dark-colored platter) of at least 9-1/2 inches in diameter.
Quickly wash the berries in cold water. Remove the green hulls. Drain well on several thicknesses of paper towelling; let stand at room temperature on the paper towelling while you prepare the filling.
In medium bowl, combine mascarpone, confectioners' sugar, and orange liqueur. with hand-held electric mixer, beat at lowest speed until blended. Scrape bowl and beater(s) well with rubber spatula. Beat mascarpone mixture again at a low speed until perfectly smooth.
At lowest speed, gradually add heavy cream. When all cream has been added, again scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula thoroughly. Beat at lowest speed until smooth, then increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is at soft peak stage. Do not overbeat or mixture will appear curdled.
Pile mascarpone mixture into cooled tart shell; spread as evenly as possible. One at a time, dry each strawberry, remove the tougher inner "core" and any soft or bruised spots with a small sharp knife, and place the berry, hull side down, on top of the filling. Start with one berry in the middle of the tart, then work outward in concentric circles. When you get close to the edge of the filling, you may have to halve or quarter the berries so they'll fit onto the filling—OK. You'll see some of the white filling showing between berries, which is fine. As soon as you're done with the strawberries, prepare the glaze.
In small, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum saucepan over low heat, melt jelly. Stir occasionally until jelly comes to a boil, then remove from heat.
With a soft pastry brush, glaze the entire top of the tart, taking care to coat the surfaces of the strawberries as thoroughly as possible. Place the tart in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Remember, this will only hold for a maximum of 4 to 6 hours.
To serve, remove tart from refrigerator. Cut slices with a plastic knife that won't scratch the bottom of the tart mold if you didn't remove it earlier.
Copyright © 2001 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created June 2001
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