This is to keep you all busy until I finish the blog post about the cakes I baked on June 13.
Late June, 2009
Name of Tarts: Ode to the Strawberry, two variations
Occasion: Strawberry Season!
Constituents: Jamie Oliver's short crust, whipped vanilla mascarpone and cream, fresh strawberries, dark chocolate, leftover sour cream ganache, cooked strawberry puree (not quite jam)
Version One: 11 inch tart, short crust, whipped vanilla mascarpone and cream, dark chocolate, and fresh strawberries.
Annmarie gave me a copy of Jamie's Italy for my birthday and one Saturday I sat down and read the book from cover to cover. There are lots of super yummy foods to try, but of course, what really got my attention were the few desserts Jamie had at the end. One of them was for a blackberry tart.
I didn't have blackberries, but I did have ruby-red, succulent and juicy strawberries just waiting to be loved. It is, to me, such a sad thing that strawberry season is so short, for this berry is such a understated beauty. A strawberry speaks of simplicity, of the bright possibilities that the beginning of summer holds. It is homey, tart, and unassuming. The last of the strawberries are being nabbed at the local farmer's markets while the raspberries--always a little louder and demanding of attention, in my opinion--have already taken the stage in raucous little seedy numbers.
Jamie's short crust looked really easy and contained curious little extras, like vanilla seeds and lemon zest. The liquid was either water or cream, your choice. Such mellow directions.
Despite my terrible habit of playing with my pastry dough too much, this crust came out all right. It was still what Jamie likes to call "short" which I assume he means "like shortbread." I am not a supertaster, so I really couldn't detect the vanilla in the crust at all, but the little black speckles are always neat to see.
After blind baking, I grated some dark chocolate over the crust and smoothed it out to create a waterproof seal, hoping to keep the crust from getting soggy and giving the tart a nice little chocolate pow. I mean, who doesn't love chocolate and strawberries?
The mascarpone gets beaten up with a cup of cream, more vanilla seeds, and sugar. Jamie calls for light cream, but I had an excess of heavy whipping cream so I used that instead. And made butter, again. It's this brand of heavy cream! It is two seconds away from being butter all on its own, I swear!
So the mascarpone cream was really tasty but had a slightly chunky texture. Oh well.
After smoothing the cream in the cooled tart shell, I sliced up my beautiful little strawberries and placed them over the top.
Fairly easy peasy! And fairly tasty!
Next time I would like a thicker layer of chocolate--I never got that chocolate pow I was hoping for. And I wouldn't make butter. When the blackberries come around, I am planning on adding orange zest to the cream. I love the combination of blackberries, vanilla, and orange. Yum.
Version Two: Two-person Tart with Sour Cream Ganache and Cooked Strawberry Puree
I have some of the short crust leftover and decided to make a little tart. I also had Sour Cream Ganache leftover from Noah's birthday cake. And, I had two pints of strawberries that were beginning to turn. So I put them all together.
I sorted out the strawberries and cooked down the non-moldy ones with a little vanilla sugar (the pod was leftover from Tart, Version One), lemon juice and water. After all the berries had basically softened into pulp and the liquid in the pan was thick, I pushed the jammy stuff through a fine mesh sieve to smooth it out. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to cool and thicken.
I prebaked the tart shell, this time in a little ramekin in my toaster oven. It worked out pretty well!
One the shell had cooled down a bit but was still warm, I scraped the leftover sour cream ganache into the shell. I wanted the warmth of the shell to soften the ganache, which had been living in my refrigerator since Noah's party. I had enough to fill the tart about 3/4 full. Then I topped it off with as much of the strawberry puree as that tart could hold, and refrigerated it for a couple of days. (I was aiming for just a couple of hours, but it took me awhile to get back to it.)
By the time I pulled the tart out to sample, the jammy stuff had thickened nicely and was shiny and deep red. I realised that there was no way I was going to get that tart shell out of the ramekin without creating a disaster, so I took a spoon to it and dug in. Straight out of the refrigerator the crust was quite hard and the flavors a bit muted, so I waited about 20 minutes for everything to warm up and soften.
I tell you, it was pretty darn good. The strawberry jammy stuff was bright and rich with flavor, and it contrasted nicely with the tangy sour cream ganache. I think in some ways, I liked this tart much better. I sure finished it on my own, instead of bringing it to Cookie's house to share with her and her husband. What can I say? It was good!
I still have enough crust leftover for one more little tart...not sure what I will try this time!