Archive for the ‘Pie and Tart Crusts’ Category
You can always bake berries into a cobbler or pie, but when you have a basket of ripe berries, sometimes the best thing that you can do with them is show them off in their natural state. This easy to make Mixed Berry and Mascarpone Tart is a perfect dessert for showcasing berries. It starts with a sweet, almond shortbread tart crust that is filled with a creamy mascarpone filling before being topped with fresh berries. The most time consuming part is making the crust – and that only takes a few minutes. The flavor of the crisp, butter almond shortbread with the cool filling and super sweet, in-season berries can’t be beat.
I use mascarpone cheese in this filling because it has a nice creaminess and a slightly sweet flavor that really sets off the berries very well. Cream cheese could be used as a substitute, but it has a stronger flavor and will be a more dominant element when the tart is served. Feel free to adjust the amount of confectioners’ sugar in the filling to your tastes, adding a little bit extra if you prefer your filling to be a little bit sweeter. I stuck with a simple combination of raspberries and blackberries for my fruit here. They are about the same size, which gives the tart a nice look, and their flavors go very well together. Don’t hesitate to mix up the berry combination with blueberries or boysenberries, too! I think that the tart looks stunning with neat rows of fresh berries, but you can actually use all kinds of fruit as a topping.
The tart recipe is for a 10-inch round tart, but you can see from the photos that it can also be made in tart pans of different sizes. Since this is a no-bake filling, you don’t need to worry about baking times and pan sizes too much with this recipe. Press your tart dough into any shape tart pan – round or rectangular, large or small – and bake the crust until it is just golden (the baking times are very similar to the full size tart, as long as the crusts are a similar thickness), then you’re ready to fill. If you do happen to have a rectangular tart pan, I definitely recommend it as it is easy to decorate and serve in this format.
I love a buttery shortbread crust on a tart and it is a go-to for many of my favorite tart recipes. There are some tarts, however, that do a bit better when there is a little more chocolate involved and for those tarts I use a Chocolate Shortbread Tart Crust as the base. This easy-to-make shortbread is made with cocoa powder, which gives the crust a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor without making the crust too rich or heavy. In fact, the tart crust is crisp and tender, with a nice buttery note to it.
Like many shortbreads, this dough is made by cutting butter into a mixture of dry ingredients. The mixture should be fine and sandy, with the butter cut down to tiny pieces to create a tender shortbread. This can be done by hand, but mixing up the dough in the food processor is faster and easier. The finished dough is crumbly and is simply pressed into the tart pan, rather than being rolled out. This makes tart assembly very easy, especially since the crust doesn’t need any pie weights or special treatment before baking. The crust is a great base for all kinds of tarts. It can be baked completely and filled with pastry cream and fresh fruit, or filled with a rich chocolate ganache. It can also be used for baked tart fillings, and baked along with the filling rather than being prebaked.
Blood oranges are definitely the jewels of the citrus world. Their red vibrant red color makes them a standout, and they’re known for being very sweet, with floral and berry notes that you don’t find in other citrus varieties. I often eat them plain, as their color gets lost in most recipes that call for oranges, but their flavor can be a great addition to many desserts.
This Blood Orange Tart has a curd-like filling made with fresh blood orange juice and orange zest. The filling takes on a slightly pinkish orange hue from the blood oranges. It is creamy, with a bright orange flavor, and is a nice match for the shortbread-like tart dough. The filling is not very thick, which makes this tart seem quite light. Using a 9-inch tart pan will get you a slightly thicker layer of filling, which might take an extra minute or two in the oven to bake all the way through.
I made an Orange Almond Tart Dough for this recipe, adding some fresh orange zest to an almond-enriched tart dough. The dough is fairly sticky and it is very tender, so use flour generously when you roll this out on your work surface and have a bench scraper handy to make it easy to transfer to the tart pan. Fortunately, this dough also patches very, very easily so if it tears as you put it into the pan or isn’t quite even, you can simply break off another small portion of dough and press it into place. The baked crust is slightly crisp, buttery and very tender – so it is worth a little extra effort getting it into the pan.
Blood oranges can vary quite a bit in their color, from light orange with a few red streaks to a dark purple. No matter the color inside, any blood orange is going to give you good results in this recipe. The only difference will be some slight variation in the color of the curd. This tart can be made with other oranges (cara cara and naval oranges are good choices), too, if you can’t find blood oranges to work with. Regardless of the type of orange, be sure to use freshly squeezed juice for the best results.
Vanilla and almond is a good combination in just about any dessert, so it should come as no surprise that a tart crust that combines those two flavors is a terrific basic tart crust recipe. This buttery Vanilla Almond Tart Crust has ground almonds and vanilla extract in it, and bakes up into a crisp and tender crust that can be used for all kinds of desserts. The recipe makes plenty of dough for a 9 or 10 inch tart pan, and can also be used for a number of smaller tarts, and it works well with both baked and unbaked tart fillings. It goes particularly well with chocolate fillings and fruit fillings, and I often use it as a base for my Strawberries and Cream Cheese Tart.
This tart dough comes together easily and is much less fussy than a pie crust can be. The dough has ground almonds in it and uses cake flour, which has less gluten in it than all purpose flour, to help produce a more tender crust. The cake flour should be measured by spooning it into your measuring cup, then sifting it into the rest of the tart ingredients. Cake flour can be clumpy if it is not sifted, but for this recipe it is not necessary to sift it before measuring it out.
This tart dough is very sticky, so it is important that you chill it well before using it. That stickiness also means that the dough will be crisp and tender after baking, not tough. I usually stick the dough into a gallon-sized plastic bag, press it into a flat layer and chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator or freezer (freezer is best if you need to chill your dough quickly). I then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and am ready to line my tart pans!
As a fan of coconut, I like it in most types of desserts and baked goods. This includes cakes, cookies, muffins and pies. Coconut cream pie is probably the most common type of coconut pie you’ll find. It is made with a pudding-like filling that is packed with shredded coconut and poured into a prebaked pie shell, very similar to a chocolate cream pie. Coconut Custard Pie is a little different than a cream pie and just might be a better way to enjoy coconut.
Coconut Custard Pie has an eggy custard base that is not pre-cooked, but baked right in the pie shell. Rather than having a pudding-like texture, it has a more delicate texture to it, like that of a creme brulee or other baked custard. Of course, this particular pie is also packed with coconut, so some of that delicate texture usually associated with baked custards is lost with the generous amount of shredded coconut that is also in the filling because that adds a lot of texture to the pie.
I use sweetened shredded coconut, but you can also use unsweetened without making any changes to the recipe. Some coconut pie recipes call for using only toasted coconut. You can use only toasted coconut in this recipe if you prefer that toasty flavor. I prefer to use untoasted coconut because I like the contrast it creates as the pie bakes: the top becomes crispy and toasted, while the coconut inside the filling remains slightly chewier. Either way, you end up with a pie that has terrific coconut flavor, a creamy and eggy base and a buttery, flaky pie crust.