23 July 2010

Caramel Mascarpone Berry Tartlets

When I don't post anything on my "view" for awhile, it usually means that we have been busy at the B&B and all the myriad things that entails. That is exactly what is going on at the moment. Add in a bounty of fruit to make jams and put away for another day when you crack open a jar or thaw some nice nice plump berries and the summer comes rushing back like a warm breath of air. Lucky for us we have wonderful guests to pamper and look after and send them on their way, sometimes with a few extra grams or ounces to remember us by.
If you are like me you have been finding ways to beat the heat and make your time in the kitchen minimal and yet satisfyingly tasty. When these gorgeous "frutti di bosco" as they are called here or forest fruits practically jumped into my basket, I knew that minimal preparation would be the best way to taste the luscious sweetness these bedazzling jewels were offering and keep me from just plunking them on top of some creamy apricot sorbetto.  Fair enough. We have had enough hot weather after a cool wet start this season that the fruit has been stunning. Bring it on I say.
Hard to resist these beauties.
Red gooseberries, blackberries, blue berries and rose colored currants (to die for)

Rummaging around, it didn't take me long to marry up a few of my favorite standards in my kitchen's speedway to heaven, to turn out some tartlets that won accolades from my eaters and a request for the recipe. Writing up a recipe is usually the hardest part for me, naturally. I can be exacting when it comes to baking, but I can also be quite cavalier with throwing things together and hoping for the best.

These look pretty edible wouldn't you say?

The recipe is fairly loose and really up for your interpretation, so I'll tell you what I did and then you most definitely must have at it. Time's a wasting.

Summer Berry Tartlets  or 
Caramel Mascarpone Cream Berry Tartlets

Yields 8  (3-4" or 8 cm tartlets)

For the fruit

I used about 1/2 pt total fruit, maybe a bit more
I used blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red gooseberries, rose currants and sweet cherry halves.
I think strawberry, peach, apricot and plum slices would be equally as delicious. Mix and match what you have or can find.
Wash your fruit and pat dry.

For the crust

  • 2 cups of crushed cookie/biscuit/biscotti , your choice. I used a Nibby Buckwheat cookie I had on hand
  • 1/4c (50g) melted unsalted butter
  • 2 T demerara sugar or coarse brown sugar or some sort of unrefined sugar

Mix all together in a bowl and press the mixture into  8 greased and  lightly floured, removable bottom tartlet pans
Make sure your base is completely covered and slightly up the sides of the pans. Better to have the bottom covered with crumbs than up the sides for ease of removing from the pan later.
Chill till firm before adding any of the other layers.

For the filling

Caramel layer
I had about 1 1/2 c (150g) caramel I had made previously. It was cold so easier to work with.

If you need a recipe to go by this one works well and will yield enough for all of these tarts.

  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 1/2c (100g) sugar
  • 1 c cream, heavy

Place you sugar and water in a heavy bottomed, tall sided pan and stir, just to start the sugar to dissolve. Place on low heat and stir occasionally till it dissolves.
Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and raise your heat to medium high. It will start to color and you may need to swirl the pan gently to distribute the color.
If needed you can wash the sides down with a pastry brush and just enough water to dissolve any crystals that might develop as you cook it. Go light on the water.
Cook until desired golden brown and remove from heat.
Add in your heavy cream all at once being careful as it will boil up. Hence the need for tall sided pan.
Cool until thickened and not too runny or too thick to spread. You can restir if necessary.

Mascarpone layer

1-8 or 12 oz (250g) carton of mascarpone cream  I'm not sure what sizes it comes in in the states
2 T unrefined sugar. blond cane sugar or regular
2 T amaretto or liqueur of your choice and to taste
2 T heavy cream

Turn the cream into a roomy mixing bowl and whisk it a bit.
Add the sugar, whisk
Add  some the cream and Amaretto to get a spreadable consistency, but not too thin that it won't hold the fruit in place when spread on the tartlets. Adjust amounts of cream and amaretto to reach the right consistency. I use a hand whisk so I am careful not to over whisk it and get a runny mess. I find that sometimes different brands and quality of mascarpone will give different results. Some brands get quite watery quickly, so keep that in mind when you are whisking away.

To assemble

Remove your chilled tartlet, spread a layer of the caramel over all of the bottoms and chill again. I find a quick trip to the freezer for about 10 minutes is optimum for my technique.
Once the  caramel is set in place then remove from freezer and evenly distribute the cream amongst the tartlets and smooth out evenly.
Place your fruit on top slightly pressing the fruit into the cream.
I then chill the tarts for at least an hour before serving, although they will hold longer in the refrigerator.
As long as you are using uncut fruit it wouldn't be necessary to glaze your fruit. If however you are using cut fruit like strawberries and soft stone fruits, then you might thin some apricot or currant jam (ha ha have fun easily finding that in the US) with a table spoon or two of brandy , slightly heating it up and brush the cut fruit with the thinned jam mixture to keep the fruit from turning brown. Chill before serving.

Remove the tartlets from their pans and serve with a light sparkling moscato or fruit juice spritzer for a summer time treat.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Those are to live for! Gorgeous tarts!

Bella Baita View said...

You're absolutely right MKiHC, berries in a tart to live for. Let's live it up and have them again! Oh yeah, we did that last night.

Rowena... said...

Red gooseberries! I have only seen the light green ones here, and am hoping to plant both red and green types this fall or next spring if they become available at our favorite nursery. Gooseberries are quite new for me as they were never shipped to Hawaii. I love the tartness!

Bella Baita View said...

I have only seen the red ones on rare occasion and never here before. Actually until this year I had never seen the green ones here either. The red ones are amazingly sweeter than the oh so tart green ones. Must be because it's such a warm summer, maybe

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