July 7, 2009
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there sure is a lot of pretty fruit out there—berries of all sorts, stone fruits like plums, nectarines, cherries, & peaches, tropical goodies a la pineapples & mangoes—it’s actually rather (or rawther, as Eloise would say) hard to go wrong in the produce section this time of year.
So in the interest of cutting to the chase, allow me to present you with one of my favorite vehicles for enjoying summer fruit: the (virtually) bakeless tart.
Ain’t it purty? Tastes good, too. What you see there is a crust made of crushed-up, storebought gingersnaps (and a little buttah, naturally), a filling comprised of mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, sugar, & vanilla, and a topping of virtually any fruit you like.
Super-versatile, straightforward, crowd-pleaser. Oh, and you can make the crust & filling ahead, too. People, get excited!
What works so well here, I think, is that the mascarpone brings a slightly unexpected flavor—much more subtle than American cream cheese, mascarpone is its Italian cousin which can be readily be found near the mozzarella & feta in even mainstream grocery stores’ deli cases. By thickening and sweetening the cheese just a little, this filling becomes an excellent foil for the fruit, showing it off and offering it a creamy complement.
And the gingersnap crust? Well, that just speaks for itself, right?
There are myriad variations on the theme here—instead of flavoring the mascarpone with vanilla, try an orange liquor or Kahlua or Amaretto. If you just can’t abide gingersnaps, swap in another crunchy cookie, chocolate or vanilla.
Though sweet Texas peaches (oh, sweet Texas peaches) are pictured here, I recently made this tart topped with a mound of sliced strawberries which had been gently bathed in a little balsamic vinegar. A lovely ending to a sweet summer’s dinner.
What’s pictured above is a double-recipe of filling, which actually yielded more than I needed to fill the tart. So I cut it in half the second time around and found a more moderate amount of filling to be more to my liking. Of course, feel free to do what you think you’ll like best!
pan: 9-inch tart pan w/ a removable bottom is ideal, but a 9-inch pie pan will work just fine
crust: 1 (8 oz.) box crunchy gingersnaps (yielding 2 ½ cups of crumbs)
4 T unsalted butter, softened
Use a food processor, if you have it, to blitz the gingersnaps to smithereens, then add the butter and process until well combined.
To make the crust by hand, simply transfer the snaps to a Ziploc bag & break them up with a rolling pin or mallet. (An excellent way to let out one’s frustrations!) Mix in the softened butter by hand.
Once you have buttery crumbs, press them into the pan, being sure to work up the sides at least halfway. Bake for just 5 minutes, to solidify the crust. Cool.
filling: 1 (8 oz.) tub mascarpone cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla or other flavoring
Using a stand mixer, whip the cheese on medium until smooth. Add powdered sugar, then the heavy cream.
It will take a few minutes for the cream to thicken the mixture—increase the speed as you go, until the consistency is similar to whipped frosting.
Mix in the vanilla or other flavoring, then spoon over the gingersnap crust, smoothing the surface.
At this point, you can cover the whole thing and store it in the fridge. Just before serving, top with the fruit of your choice & enjoy!