This beautiful recipe comes to us from Jamie Schler, a Floridian food writer and photographer who now calls France home.
I’m a Florida girl. We moved to the Space Coast way back in the early 1960’s when I was just three years old and my father began work for the newly created NASA. We loved the sunshine and the beach, the freedom of bare feet, playing in the street with a gaggle of like-minded kids and fresh Florida seafood and produce. Heaven!
Learn more by visiting Jamie’s Culinary Chronicle. In addition to sharing this recipe, Jamie was kind enough to tell the tale behind the tart. Check out her story and enjoy this delicious dessert! It’s just in time for Florida strawberry season and the holiday season. Now on to Jamie’s story!
I am lucky enough to live in a region of France where the strawberries are not only local and abundant, but the best in the country – gariguettes, mara des bois, fraises des bois, among others – and I buy them all season almost every day. But I rarely cook or bake with strawberries; these sweet, juicy berries are almost systematically sliced, placed in a bowl and tossed with a bit of sugar and lemon juice and eaten fresh, occasionally tossed with local fresh raspberries.
But come strawberry season, the bakers and pastry shop display cases are all filled with perfectly parallel rows of pretty little tartlets. Every day I would see individual and larger tarts of concentric circles of strawberries sitting atop swirls of either whipped cream or vanilla pastry cream. Our local bakery had these tartlets that I would ogle every day and I finally decided to make one myself.
I loved the idea of a simple pastry shell filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream with bare berries on top – strawberries really don’t need much else, but I knew that adding mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream would make the filling richer, creamier and would stabilize it so it would both last longer and hold up under the weight of the berries.I decided to leave the green tops on the outside ring of berries only for decorative purposes and my photo, but once dusted with powdered sugar I found the effect beautiful. The thin layer of chocolate just seemed appropriate, reminiscent of a similar tart I made about 20 years ago and the perfect accent to accompany the berries. Truly a luscious, elegant, light yet rich tart for everyday or a special occasion.
And this is one simple and sensational tart, redolent of summer and kissed with both the sweetness of fresh strawberries and the indulgence of chocolate. A blissful dessert of ethereal, luxurious whipped mascarpone cream atop a thin layer of chocolate – in using Lindt Mint Chocolate I added a delicate hint of mint – all topped with luscious, seasonal berries. Pretty, light and sweet, a truly exquisite treat for these halcyon days of summer.
Strawberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream Tart
- 1 pre-baked Sweet Pastry Crust of your choice *
- 3.5 oz semisweet chocolate (I use Lindt Menthe Intense Chocolate Noir 70%)
- 3-4 cups strawberries (about 1 ½ – 2 lbs), fresh, seasonal & local when possible
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1 tbsp powdered/confectioner’s sugar
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese, chilled
- Powdered/confectioner’s sugar for dusting
* Use either pâte brisée (short crust), pâte sablée (cookie crust) or pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) rolled out to line a 9-inch (24-cm) pie plate, trimmed and pre-baked. I used my favorite Sweet Pastry Crust (recipe found here) and although delicious, I do think that using a pâte sablée or a crust a bit more crumbly would have been better suited.
Prepare Pastry Crust by rolling out and lining a lightly buttered pie plate. Trim. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the piecrust from the refrigerator, prick lightly all over with a fork and place a large piece of parchment paper in the crust and weigh it down with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the pie plate from the oven to a cooling rack. Carefully lift off the parchment and the weights/beans and discard (saving the beans or weights for later use). Press down the crust if puffed up and return to the oven to bake for an additional 8 – 12 minutes or until golden and baked (if using a glass pie plate, carefully lift the plate to check the bottom of the crust; it should be evenly golden.
Remove the piecrust from the oven and place on a cooling rack (turn off the oven as you will no longer need it). Melt the chocolate gently either in a microwave oven or over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth. Poor the warm/hot melted chocolate into the still-warm piecrust and, using the back of a soupspoon, spread evenly over the bottom. Allow to cool to room temperature; once cooled, place in the refrigerator to chill so the chocolate solidifies.
Prepare the strawberries as you like: you can trim and remove the caps and slice evenly or you can simply trim the caps and leave whole as I did.
Prepare the filling by whipping the heavy whipping cream until peaks hold, beating in the tablespoon of powdered sugar and a small drizzle of vanilla as you whip. Add the mascarpone and beat together just until light and fluffy.
Once the tart shell and chocolate are just chilled and the chocolate set, simply spread the mascarpone whipped cream over the chocolate to fill the shell and top with the strawberries.
NOTE: The quantities given above are for a thin layer of cream filling, just the right amount so as not to completely take over the pie, allowing the flavor of both the chocolate and the strawberries to shine through: really the perfect balance for me. But feel free to increase the amount of one, the other or both as well as increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar to your taste.
This recipe was originally posted on Life’s a Feast, a blog by Jamie Schler. Follow Jamie on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. You can find more of her writing at the Huffington Post and learn more about food writing and photography at From Plate to Page.