Kipper and I are both very fond of strawberry tarts – crisp, buttery pastry topped with lashings of cream and juicy, ripe strawberries. Mmmm.
Unfortunately, they often fall short of perfection. Usually, the ratio of cream to strawberry is too much in favour of cream, and there are not enough strawberries. Often, the natural sweet loveliness of the berries is swamped by a layer of artificially-flavoured goo/jelly/syrup. Somehow, they always look better than they end up tasting.
We can do better than that, I though. And by jiminy, I was right!
These strawberry mascarpone tarts start with a golden, sweet shortcrust pastry case, filled with vanilla-scented mascarpone cream, and topped with a generous number of strawberries. We served them as dessert after a summery Shabbat lunch, and they vanished in not very much time at all! I can’t stay I was too surprised. They looked fabulous and tasted really rather good as well.
Kipper helped in the preparation of these tarts as well as the eating :-). She loves rolling out with my super-duper rolling pin, and also got busy with the cutters, cutting circles of pastry to make the tart cases. She was fascinated by the baking beans, and even made up a little song about them. Well, she danced around singing, “Baking beans! Baking beans!” over and over again, if that counts.
We had a small amount of pastry left over, so we cut it into circles and baked them flat. My idea had been to sandwich them together with cream/ice-cream and fruit, but Kipper was so taken with the delicious pastry that she has been eating them plain, like biscuits. It really is very good pastry.
The mascarpone cream filling is thick and decadent, and would make a delicious topping for fruit salad, scones, or anything else that requires a dollop of delicious creamy yum. I was very generous with it and divided the lot between 12 tarts, but you could probably stretch it further without being mean. (Just resist the temptation to stick your face in it. Mmmm.)
I advise using small strawberries – they’re easier to arrange on top of the cream. If you can only find large ones, cut them into quarters and you’ll probably be OK.
Makes 12 strawberry mascarpone tarts. Yum.
- 175g plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 100g cold butter, cubed
- Cold water
- 250g mascarpone
- 0.25 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g icing sugar
- 300ml double cream
- 400g small strawberries
- Blend the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor, or cut/rub in by hand, to give fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water to bring the pastry together to a soft, pliable consistency. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 160C.
- On a floured surface, roll the pastry out to a thickness of 2-3mm. Cut out twelve 10-12cm circles of pastry and use them to line a 12-cup tart/cupcake tin. Place a square of crumpled foil or baking parchment into each tart case and fill with baking beans.
- Bake the pastry cases at 160C for 20 minutes. Remove the foil/parchment and beans, and return to the oven for 5 more minutes until the pastry is light golden and crisp.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Beat the mascarpone with the vanilla and icing sugar until creamy and well combined.
- Whisk the double cream to soft peaks. Stir 1/4-1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to soften it.
- Fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Divide the mascarpone cream between the pastry cases - there should be a generous dollop in each tart.
- Wash and hull the strawberries and cut each one in half. Arrange the strawberry halves on top of the cream - around 2-3 whole strawberries (4-6 halves) per tart.
- Serve as soon as possible, as the pastry will begin to soften once the filling has been added. If not serving straightaway, keep these tarts in the fridge.
- The pastry cases can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for several days.
- if no small strawberries are available, cut large strawberries into quarters or slices instead.