July has been a busy month, but no matter how busy I get, I never want to miss the opportunity to work on an assignment for The Inspired Plate. This month the assignment is “seasonal”. Living along the SF Bay Area coastal regions, I find that pretty much everything around here can be “in-season”. But when I think of summer, I immediately think of ripe fresh berries. Berries when ripened by the summer sun are so full of juice that they pop when you eat them. Along with wanting to incorporate berries into this assignment, I also knew that I wanted to make something where I could use these adorable mini tart pans that I purchased off Amazon. On a side note, I have this thing about making desserts small. I have found with my family, that just a taste is will usually satisfy. There is also the added lesson that small sized pastries and desserts teach my kids about portions with food!
Berries + mini tart pans = blueberry & meyer lemon mascarpone tartlettes
Joining me this month with The Inspired Plate is Jennifer Olson | Pretty Eats. I can’t wait to see what she has picked out for us this month.
To be totally transparent, I’ve never made a tart of any kind before, so I headed over to Pinterest for some inspiration and landed on a couple of food blogs that were very helpful. I pulled ideas and recipes from a couple of different blogs, adapted them, made some changes to make them my own, but I want to be sure to give full credit to those authors that helped me out.
The tartlettes. Sounds like it should be the name of a naughty girl band or something, doesn’t it?
To prepare the tartlettes I used a recipe for tart shells adapted from Not Without Salt. If in the past you have slaved away prepping and making dough for tart/pie shells, look no further. This recipe is so easy, and whips up in 10 minutes or less.
This made enought for 6-3″ tartlette molds
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ cup butter (melted)
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
In a medium bowl stir together all the ingredients. The dough can easily be pressed into the tart pans.
Bake at 350*F for about 20 or until lightly golden.
Sorry friends, no pictures of the prep for the tarts…I had to make these in the wee hours of the night, after the littles went to sleep.
The Meyer lemon mascarpone filling: This was the first time I’ve worked with Mascarpone cheese. If you have never baked with it, it is the Italian version of cream cheese. This mascarpone filling is so good that my daughter and I sat in the kitchen eating it by the spoonfuls, ooohhhing and aaahhhing over every scoop. It is my belief now that everyone should have this filling on hand to serve on toast, waffles, and as a fruit dip. In one word, DIVINE!
A Meyer lemon is essential here. The fragrance that this type of lemon brings to the filling gives it just the right tart finished taste.
This recipe was adapted from The Dirty Kitchen blog.
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whipped cream, whipped
splash of vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
In a kitchen mixer whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Add the cheese and the remainder of ingredients and continue to whip until soft peaks form. I recommend storing the filling in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. This seems to really bring out the tart citrus taste.
Blueberry and Red Wine Syrup: Inclusion of the blueberry and red wine syrup was an idea that came to mind when I was perusing Pinterest. I ran across the blog The Bojon Gourmet by Alanna Taylor, where she created a cherry syrup reduction. Since I used blueberries in this recipe, I decided to pair the berries with a french red wine for some added flavor.
Add just enough red wine so that the blueberries are about half-way submerged.
1/2 pint of blueberries
2 tablespoons of sugar
the juice of one meyer lemon
dash of vanilla
Add all of the ingredients to a sauce pan, and simmer over medium to high heat. Along the way mash the blueberries with a fork or potato masher to release the juices. This process is very akin to making cranberry sauce. I decided that wanted the blueberry skins and bits in my syrup. If you would like a more smooth syrup remove the sauce from the stove top and sieve out the blueberry skins. You can return the syrup to the heat to reduce the volume down further or use it as is.
Tartlette Assembly: The tarts can be assembled just before eating or ahead of time by a couple of hours. If you prepare them in advance I would recommend storing them covered in the refrigerator. If you decide to serve with the syrup, add it to the tarts just before serving, as I worry if you add it to far in advance, that the tart may become soggy.
The tart crusts are very easy to remove from the non-stick molds and can simply be inverted or pinched on the sides to remove the shells. For the mini shells add enough of the mascarpone filling to fill the entire shell out to the edges. I love sliced almonds so I added a layer of almonds before adorning with the blueberries. Now, I am what you might call a picky blueberry eater. I carefully chose only the firmest blueberries for my tartlettes. Just before serving, I scooped two large tablespoons of the blueberry and red wine syrup on top.
If you have any questions or comments about this post, please leave a comment below. I love answering questions and getting to know my readers!