I wanted to switch things up last week from my usual buttercream/cake overload frenzy to something a bit more refined. Perhaps a bit more French. Less sugar. More cream. More fruit. No buttercream. With those constraints I happened upon a wonderful tart recipe that used a honey and mascarpone cheese filling. I settled on blackberries for my fruit (one of my favorites and so pretty against white) and used the tried and true Pate Brisee recipe from Julia Child for the crust. The hardest part was making the little tart shells and that truthfully is not that hard. Just takes some time if you want to make a couple dozen and only have 6 tart shell pans. Lots of shuffling and repeating but really not too bad. And the only baking you have to do is of the shells so that's nice. Just remember to line them with foil or parchment paper and fill them with pie weights and/or beans. Also, poke some holes in the crust so the dough doesn't puff up too much.
For the filling you just mix up some honey, mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and vanilla. I was a bit weirded out by this mixture thinking it would resemble something like cheese cake (my mortal enemy) but was pleasantly surprised that it was not sour or cheesy at all. Despite the actual cheese and sour cream. It turned out more like a standard pastry cream, but richer. Had a wonderful depth and just a hint of sweet from the honey. Quite delicious with fruit. After you fill them and add your fruit topping, chill them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more to stiffen up the cream and keep them fresh. Keep chilled until ready to serve or just before.
I'm not sure how I could sell this to you more but I heard from several people independently that this was the best thing I've ever made and perhaps some shade of shock at how nice looking it was. Perhaps my tasters where surprised that copious amounts of butter was not involved nor any buttercream. A nice change up. It's good to keep people on their toes. One thing that I love about this is that it is so versatile. You can add any fruit as a topping. The cream and the crust are merely a base. You can do a mixed fruit or maybe even do them plain, or with chocolate. Who knows. It's open to interpretation. I'm planning on making several variations of this in the future. A definite crowd pleaser as it turns out.
Here's the filling recipe (from Annie's Eats):
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ground nutmeg
And the pate brisee recipe (from Master the Art of French Cooking)
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 - 120 ml) ice water
A week ago I made a little sampler of baked goods for a coffee shop I may be supplying some sweets to in the future. (Fingers Crossed). I settled on the tarts (several people insisted that I do this so I figured they know best and are the type of customer for these treats so who am I to deny them?) as well as my favorite, the red velvet cake, in cupcake and minicupcake form, and the lemon doughnuts. I think they all turned out pretty well and hopefully I'll get the gig. I tried to do a nice mixture of flavors to show some versatility but then realized I didn't do any of my usual sweet laden treats with buttercream, but oh well, I think some of myself came through. People can't subsist entirely on buttercream creations. They want some variety. I think anyway. I'm good with just buttercream though.
The Baby Loaf
Photos by Collin Monda