It’s that time of year when strawberries, tarts and relaxation are in season. Combine the three and a Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze is what you get. Or, at least it’s what I got. I absolutely love walking through grocery stores just to feast my eyes upon anything and everything that the wonderland of ingredients holds and I couldn’t resist this recipe any longer once I began to notice the flood of strawberries entering the markets.
I was especially inclined to try this recipe when I realized that hey, it’s Memorial Day weekend and I haven’t baked anything particularly thrilling in quite some time. Not since my Mother’s Day disaster, I believe. While I can’t say that strawberries are my favorite fruit *gasp* or that baking is my strongest suit, I took on the challenge of this recipe with a resolute attitude and then reveled in my unexpected success. especially because making this tart was a first of firsts for me. Even with all the improvising I did, I was able to produce a terrific tasting tart.
I remember when I used to live in Korea, my friends and I had a weekly ritual of attending church together on Sundays and then eating lunch in the vicinity. One of the places we used to frequent was Starlite Cafe, which served New York Cheesecake (not the easiest to find in Korean bakeries) and Strawberry Tart along with other pastries and sandwiches. I recall the delight I felt in indulging in their decadent strawberry tart every once in a while. I had always been fascinated by the complementing ensemble and the vibrant embellishment. I can’t believe that only now, years later upon my first pondering, I’m learning how to make one on my own.
I’m a smidgen more than slightly embarrassed to tell you that I’ve only just discovered what mascarpone cheese truly looks and tastes like. I’ve heard of it and seen it on recipes countless times, but I’ve never bothered using it nor finding out what exactly it was. To sum up what I think about mascarpone, I love it. It’s wonderfully versatile and perfect for the proper execution of this tart. It comes in a plastic container, much like that of sour cream, and tastes like flavorless smooth cream cheese. It was more than a treat to work with this cheese for the first time. It definitely will not be my last.
Another first, but again not last, for me was using Ruby Port. It’s a red wine made with a blend of red grape varieties with a fragrant berry flavor with light tannins. Reduced and combined with the sweetness of the sugared strawberries, this wine made the perfect glaze. I hope you feel the sense of pride and joy I did upon completion of this tart.
Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze
Adapted from Gourmet (April 2009)
For Tart Shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 pounds strawberries (about 1 1/2 quarts), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ruby Port
1 pound mascarpone (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make tart shell:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together.
Gently 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 (which I do not have so I instead used a cake pan) an 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 (if you don’t have a tart pan, decorate the sides by pressing a fork along it to create ridges). Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights* or dry beans. 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 more. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.
*I didn’t have pie weights, so instead I lined the shell with lightly buttered foil and once the time came to “remove the pie weights,” I took a large spoon and evened the bottom out by patting down any unwanted air bubbles. Then continued with the rest of the steps as written.
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 Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 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.
Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.