Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Balsamic Glaze

IMG_5168I adore fruit desserts. I like cake, cookies, and bars of all types too, but if given the choice between a slice of fruit filled pie or a slice of chocolate cake- the pie is always going to win. However, as much as I’m smitten with fruit filled confections, I become panic stricken at the thought of making pie. Well, not the whole pie; it’s the crust that produces anxiety, specifically getting that crumbly mass of flour, fat, and ice cold water to come together in such a way that I can roll it out and successfully transfer it to a pie plate. And then, even if I do get the crust in the tin, there is the decorative crimping, braiding, and/or latticing business that has to be worked out! More than one pre-Thanksgiving prep day has resulted in me cursing the pastry gods, followed by a run to the store to buy a premade pie crust that I magically unfurl into the pie tin of my choice.

Homemade pie crust just stumps me. With plenty of practice, patience and loads of flour, shortening or butter and ice water I know I’ll figure it out. But for now, when the fruit at the market or farm stand is begging to be brought home, I rely on desserts that do not have a roll out, transfer to a pie plate component. Think cobblers, crostadas (free form crust) and tarts. Yes, tarts! With a tart, you just dump your crumbly dough in the pan and press it into place- no rolling or transferring required. And tarts are gorgeous. Pans with a removable bottom allow you to see their beautifully formed golden sides. You’ll look like a pastry pro!

This particular tart recipe also has the benefit of a no bake filling, a quick whisk of mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla and salt. Topping the tart are perfectly juicy strawberries, the result of a short and sweet mingle with granulated sugar. The tart is absolutely delicious left at that. However, a drizzle of balsamic glaze that has been enhanced with a bit of strawberry juice (product of the previously mentioned mingle) really pushes this dessert over the top.  If your eaters are slightly skeptical of mixing balsamic vinegar with their sweets, serve it in a pretty pitcher on the side. Encourage a try, just a drop or two. I promise they will be converted.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Balsamic Glaze


*adapted from Gourmet
April 2009IMG_5169

For Tart Shell:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
rounded ¼ tsp salt
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp cold water

For Filling:

1 ½ lb strawberries, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 lb mascarpone (about 2 cups)
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

Equipment: 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom; pie weights, dried beans or raw rice

Make tart shell:

Blend together flour, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl with a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-sized butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture begins to come together.

Knead with floured hands on a lightly floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead 4 or 5 times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375° with rack in middle. Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans or raw rice. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.

Make Filling While Tart Shell Cools:

Stir together strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add balsamic vinegar to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about ¼ cup, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff. Cover and keep chilled in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble Tart:

Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle balsamic glaze all over tart. Alternatively, drizzle on individual slices as desired.

Here we go!

Using a pastry blender cut butter into the flour mixture.  You can also use a food processor for this step.
Using a pastry blender cut butter into the flour mixture. You can also use a food processor for this step.
The butter has been cut in, leaving the flour mixture crumbly with a few pea sized pieces of butter.
The butter has been cut in, leaving the flour mixture crumbly with a few pea sized pieces of butter.
Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and water together.
Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and water together.
Using a fork, mix the egg yolk mixture into the flour.
Using a fork, mix the egg yolk mixture into the flour.
Take a small handful of dough and squeeze. If it holds together, the dough is ready to form.
Ready to go!
Ready to go!
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
With lightly floured hands, knead the dough 4 or 5 times until it comes together.  Form into a 5 inch disk.
With lightly floured hands, knead the dough 4 or 5 times until it comes together.  Form into a 5 inch disk
Place the disk in tart pan.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap.
Place the disk in tart pan. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap.
Using your fingers and the bottom of a flat bottomed measuring cup, press the dough evenly to cover bottom and sides of tart pan.
Using your fingers and the bottom of a flat bottomed measuring cup, press the dough evenly to cover bottom and sides of tart pan.
Using a fork, prick all over the bottom of the tart.
Using a fork, prick all over the bottom of the tart. Place in freezer to chill for at least 10 minutes.
After an hour in the freezer...
After an hour in the freezer…
Line frozen tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans or raw rice.
Line frozen tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans or raw rice. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until golden- approximately 20 more minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until golden- approximately 20 more minutes.
20 minutes later.  A little too brown, but it will be ok.  Lesson- keep an eye on the tart shell while it's baking!
20 minutes later. A little too brown, but it will be ok. Lesson- keep an eye on the tart shell while it’s baking!
Toss the strawberries and sugar together.  Leave for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Toss the strawberries and sugar together. Leave for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.
Whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, lemon juice, zest,  vanilla, and pinch of salt.
Using a sieve, strain the strawberries over a small saucepan to catch any juice they've released.
Using a sieve, strain the strawberries over a small saucepan to catch any juice they’ve released.
Add balsamic vinegar to strawberry liquid.  Boil until reduced in half (about 15 minutes).  Set aside to cool.
Add balsamic vinegar to strawberry liquid. Boil until reduced in half (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
Tart shell has cooled for at least 30 minutes.  Ready to assemble
Tart shell has cooled for at least 30 minutes. Ready to assemble!
Spread mascarpone evenly across bottom of tart shell.
Spread mascarpone evenly across bottom of tart shell.
Place strawberries on top of filling.
Place strawberries on top of filling.
Serve with balsamic glaze on the side.
Serve with balsamic glaze on the side.

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