Happy New Year’s Day, all! I can’t think of more beautiful weather to kick off 2013. Following the Chinese Lunar Calendar it’s the Year of the Snake – my year – so let’s bring it on!
I’m starting this year’s first blog post with a lovely treat that would be a downright hit at any occasion – whether it be a casual pool party and barbeque to a sit-down a la carte-style setting, this fresh, summer berry, honey and mascarpone tart will be a delightful end to any meal. I simply love berries when their season peaks in the summer months – their prices per punnet plummet and they are a perfect accompaniment to many sweet desserts and serve to balance out a lot of excess sweetness. I like to feature fresh, uncooked berries while I have them, rather than cooking them down into a syrup or using them for baking, as frankly you can do that with frozen berries all year round.
First of all, you need to make your tart shells. I’ve made pastry so many times on here that you probably know the recipe off by heart now, but for your convenience I shall provide it again.
To make four individual tart pastry shells (approximately 10-12cm diameter), you will need:
- 125g plain flour;
- 63g unsalted butter;
- 1 egg yolk + 2 teaspoons chilled water;
- 40g sifted icing sugar.
Process the flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg and water in a bowl until combined, then with the food processor motor running, add to the flour mixture. Process until the mixture begins to form large clumps, stopping the machine before the mixture forms a ball. Turn the pastry out onto a work surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a disc before wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight or for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Divide the disc of pastry into four, then roll each portion between two sheets of baking paper until large enough to line one of your pastry tins. Repeat with the remaining three tins before lining them with baking paper and topping with baking beads or rice. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the rice/beads, before baking for a further 15 minutes or until pastry is golden. Place to one side and allow to cool completely.
For the rest of the tart, you will need:
- 1 punnet fresh raspberries;
- 1 punnet fresh blackberries;
- 60ml (1/4C) dessert wine/liqueur of your choice;
- 60g icing sugar, sifted;
- 1C (250ml) thickened cream;
- 250g mascarpone;
- 1/4C honey.
Wash the berries before drying them lightly with a paper towel. Place into a bowl and toss with your choice of dessert wine and half of the icing sugar (30g). I had a new bottle of a 2005 Botrytis Semillon, a dessert wine rich in flavours of dried apricot, citrus fruit, marmalade and hints of honey, and it went beautifully with the tart. But if you like, you can also replace it with something else like Cointreau or Drambuie. You can also use freshly-squeezed orange juice for a non-alcoholic version, although I can reassure you that you can barely taste any hint of alcohol when you eat the tart.
In case you’re wondering,why my portion sizes look a lot smaller than yours, it’s because I’ve divided it up. Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong!
Whisk together the mascarpone, cream and the remaining icing sugar with an electric beater until stiff peaks form.
Get ready to assemble your tart! Start with a plain tart shell.
Fill it with the mascarpone cream.
Spoon over the berries, which now should be nice and glossy and smell simply divine.
Just before serving, drizzle over a tablespoonful of the honey over the top of the berries.
Can you resist? I think not.
Enjoy the beginning of 2013, lovelies! Keep to your resolutions, and let us make 2013 a brighter, stronger, more fruitful year.
Much love xx