I love preparing desserts. There’s something so methodical about the process of baking that I find very soothing. Planning, measuring, creaming, layering, decorating… and beautiful vibrant colors to inspire me! I certainly love cooking as well, but I don’t find it nearly as relaxing. I feel as though I achieve almost a meditative state of focus and calm while baking, even when the dough misbehaves or an ingredient responds in an unexpected way. This is why I also like more complex desserts. Maybe that sounds backwards, but allow me to explain. At first glance, a recipe such as the one below might appear time consuming and overwhelming. But it’s actually just two smaller recipes prepared back to back. Most of the steps are relatively simple and you can work in phases. When a recipe takes 4-5 hours, it can usually be broken down into 2 days. This is especially true with tarts. The dough almost always requires several chill/rest periods. And for a no-bake tart such as this one, the cooked shell also needs to cool completely before adding the filling. You can certainly do this in one day, but I find separating the days to be more enjoyable.
If you’ve never made a tart before, rolling and distributing the dough can take a bit of practice. Don’t let it worry you, though. Anyone can do it! I recommend watching a few YouTube video tutorials that demonstrate technique. And then just go for it. You can practice multiple times with the dough before baking it. This dough is especially forgiving. Just allow it to rest and chill between attempts. It’s much easier to work with cold dough. Feel free to contact me with any questions!
This strawberries and cream tart is spectacular. The filling is reminiscent of panna cotta and the sweet cream flavor is perfect with strawberries. The dough, Pate Sucree, tastes like a cookie. Since strawberries are in season right now I didn’t feel the need to glaze them, but if you make this in the off season, brushing some melted apricot jam on top will give the tart a beautiful shine and add flavor.
- 6 ounces all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces sugar
- lemon zest (approximately ½ lemon)
- 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 oz mascarpone
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 sheets gelatin
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 pint strawberries (2 pints if you want to pick and choose pretty/equal-sized berries to display)
- Add the flour, salt, sugar and zest to a food processor and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter, yolk and vanilla while the machine is on. Allow the dough to come together and then turn it out onto plastic wrap.
- Press the dough together and flatten it into a disk. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Roll the dough onto a floured surface (I recommend a french rolling pin and a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for the next steps). Work swiftly and move the dough around continuously while rolling it out to prevent sticking. If the dough gets to soft at any time, place it back in the refrigerator for a bit. When the dough is thin and even, roll it around the pin and then unroll it into the tart pan. You want there to be excess dough all the way around. Carefully press the dough into the flutes so that it’s evenly distributed. Note: Pate Sucree is very forgiving. If any holes appear while rolling the dough out, simply patch them up with excess dough.
- To prevent shrinking when the dough bakes, make a ‘lip’ at the top of the pan. To do this, fold some of the excess dough back onto itself all the way around. Press the rolling pin along the top of the pan to evenly cut off any excess dough that remains over the top. Now press the ‘lip’ back up so that it’s just slightly higher than the rim of the tart pan.
- Allow the rolled dough to chill for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Use a fork to gently prick holes all across the bottom of the tart. This will help prevent the dough from developing air bubbles. Line the bottom with parchment paper and add uncooked beans to weigh down the dough.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the beans and parchment paper. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes, or until the dough is fully cooked. Allow the shell to cool completely.
- Place the mascarpone in a large bowl and add the sugar. Still well to combine. Add a splash of vanilla.
- Add the gelatin sheets to a small bowl of cold ice water and allow them to soften.
- Whip ½ cup of the heavy cream and set aside.
- Heat ¼ cup of the cream until it’s warm, but not hot. Remove the gelatin sheets from the water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Add to the warm cream and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir into the mascarpone mixture.
- Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Spread evenly into the cooled tart shell. Place in the refrigerator to set.
- While the cream is starting to solidify, wash and dry the strawberries. Slice them in half or into thirds if they’re very large.
- When the gelatin has mostly set (it can still be a bit wobbly), carefully lay the strawberries on top in a decorative patten of your choice. You can wait until the cream has completely set, they just won’t adhere as well.
- Allow the tart to set for at least 2 hours before serving.
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