The Beautiful Burden of Seasonal Fruit…
The idea for these Honey Mascarpone Tarts with Plums and Blackberries came to me out of a desperate attempt eat every piece of summer produce available to me this season. Summer is great for many reasons, but the fruit (sweet nature the fruit!) is the best! Peaches, plums, nectarines, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, cantaloupe, watermelon, the list extends into infinity and I intend to eat All. Of. It.
I must admit, however, this goal has been a somewhat impeded by my other goals this season to limit food waste and grocery shopping as much as possible. I have been working hard on reducing my food waste for a few years now with sporadic success. I may not clear out my whole fridge every week, but I have been throwing out significantly less over time and I am very proud of that. Most of my success is due to being more mindful of planning ahead, and also buying smaller quantities and focusing on things that will last longer. Now you see my conundrum because due to the pandemic it is now necessary to take as few trips to the store as possible (hence goal 2). This obviously conflicts with the buying smaller quantities rule, and most delicious summer produce, like berries and stone fruit, are not known for their long shelf lives.
My subscription box through Imperfect Produce has helped significantly. Their service has its pros and cons (don’t bother ordering anything in a glass bottle), but overall I really enjoy it. I can get about 80% of my groceries delivered through them every week, which greatly reduces my trips to the store. It also helps me plan because I have to go in and choose what I want to receive every week. I found out when I started volunteering at a local food bank that they donate a lot of produce as well.
When I ordered the plums and blackberries, I didn’t really have a plan for them. Most random fruit and veggies that I can’t find another use for ends up in my morning smoothie. But when I opened my box this week and saw these gorgeous plums sitting next to some beautiful blackberries, I just couldn’t bring myself to pulverize them into oblivion. They had to be dessert. It was their destiny.
So in the spirit of fridge-shopping, I took a looksie and found some mascarpone that had originally intended to be turned into tiramisu gooey butter cake (that may come later, stay tuned!) and inspiration struck! This beauty is a tart symphony in three parts: pâte sucrée crust, mascarpone cream filling, and plum and blackberry topping.
So, what is Mascarpone?
I’m so glad you asked. Mascarpone (mahs-car-POH-nay) is a double or triple cream cheese hailing from Italy. It is soft, smooth, and buttery with a texture similar to cream cheese, but with a higher butterfat content that makes it literally melt in your mouth. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, but is most often associated with tiramisu and cannoli filling.
Is it fattening AF? Yes. Is it totally 100% worth it? YES.
Tips for making Mascarpone Cream
- Let your mascarpone come to room temperature before you begin. This will make it easier for your ingredients to incorporate
- Taste your cheese/honey/sugar/vanilla mixture before you fold in the whipped cream and add more sugar or honey if you would like it sweeter, or more cheese if you would like it less sweet. It is better to adjust the flavor at this step because once the whipped cream is added you do not want to over-mix or you will lose that light and airy texture.
- Be sure to add your whipped cream to your mascarpone mixture, not the other way around. I add it in thirds, mostly incorporating the cream into the cheese before adding the next third. This ensures the ingredients incorporate evenly without lumps.
- You can use this cream for way more than tarts! Put it on cakes, cupcakes, hot cocoa, milkshakes, and brownies! You can even leave out the whipped cream and use it as a sweet smear for bagels and English muffins! You can also try to add some spices or extracts for a different flavor profile. I’m thinking cardamom next, or orange blossom water, or lemon zest!
So, What is Pâte Sucrée?
Literally translating to “sweet dough”, pâte sucrée is a sweet and crumbly dough most often used in french tarts. It’s sometimes referred to as “shortcrust”, although that word can mean any pastry dough with a high fat to flour ratio. It is different than your standard american pie dough as it doesn’t puff up much or get flaky, Instead it is crisp and crumbly, almost like a shortbread cookie. If fact, I have been known to bake off the scraps and dip in melted chocolate to make the most delicious little shortcrust cookies! If you prefer to use store bought crust, I recommend getting a standard pie crust NOT puff pastry. Puff pastry will turn into a soggy mess. A graham cracker crust would also be good. If can find store bought short crust that would be best of course.
Tips for making Pâte Sucrée
- The easiest and fastest way to make this dough is in the food processor. However, if you don’t have one, a pastry cutter or rubbing the butter in with your fingers will work just fine.
- The flour and butter should be in smaller pieces than you would for your standard pie dough. Your looking for the mixture to be quite sandy and fine before adding your egg yolk and water
- Don’t over-mix! Your dough should not come completely together in the food processor, but just barely starting to form chunks. You will know if its ready if you squeeze some of the dough together and it forms a ball that holds its shape. At this point you can remove it from the processor and ball the rest of it together with your hands.
Lets talk about that seasonal fruit
I went with plums and blackberries because that’s what I had on hand, and I’m not at all disappointed! The flavor was tart yet sweet, and the texture of the plums was beautiful. Also, that color, can you say swoon! That being said, you can use absolutely anything with this crust and filling combination. We had a little extra mascarpone cream left over and The Hubs threw it in a bowl with a sliced banana and some caramel and it was delightful. You can cook the fruit like I did, or use fresh, along with additional embellishments like chocolate or herbs. And it works for all seasons!
Ideas for fruit variations
- More stone fruit and berries combos: peaches and blueberries, apricot and raspberry, cherry and strawberryd
- Winter fruit options: pear and crystallized ginger, poached pears, apple pie filling, figs and candied hazelnuts
- Fruit and herbs: strawberry and basil, blueberry and mint, apple and sage, blackberry and cilantro
- Non-fruit toppings: orange marmalade, caramel, candied nuts, nutella, citrus curd
Tell me in the comments what your favorite summer fruit is to bake with! What are you excited to pair with this melt-in-your-mouth delicious mascarpone cream?
Without further ado, lets make this thing!
Honey Mascarpone Tarts with Plums and Blackberries
- Mini tart pans or large tart pan
- 200 grams All-purpose flour about 1 ½ cups
- 115 grams Unsalted Butter About ½ cup
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2-4 Tbs Water
Plum and Blackberry Compote
- 1 cup Blackberries
- 4-5 medium Plums
- ¾ cup Sugar
- 1 Tbs Corn Starch
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- 2 pinch Salt
- 1 pinch Black Pepper
- 8 oz Mascarpone
- 2 Tbs Honey
- 2 Tbs Brown Sugar
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
- Sprinkle of Thyme for garnish optional
To make the shortcrust pastry:
- Prepare 12 3-4 inch pie tins by greasing with butter or shortening and lightly flouring. Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor*. Pulse until sandy. Add the yolk and pulse a few more times to combine. Add water 1 Tbs at a time and pulse until it just starts to come together.
- Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll dough to ¼ thickness and cut into circles slightly larger than your tart tins. Gently lay circle into tin and press into sides. Prick bottom a few times with a fork, and chill in fridge for 15 min. Repeat for all remaining tins. Alternatively, you can use one large tart tin.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Let cool.
To make the plum and blackberry compote:
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Halve or quarter plums and remove pits. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, and black pepper. Add in fruit and thyme and toss to coat. Pour into an 8X8 baking pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until plums are soft but still hold their shape and juices are thickened. The blackberries will be mostly dissolved. Let cool.
To make mascarpone cream:
- Whisk together mascarpone, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in a separate bowl using an egg beater, whip cream to stiff peaks.
- Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture until combined.
- Add 2-3 Tbs of mascarpone cream to shell and use the back of a spoon to push cream to edges (use as much or as little as you like, but I like it to be slightly mounded).
- Make a small depression in the center for the fruit. Add a spoonful of fruit on top, allowing the sauce to drizzle over the sides.*
- If you do not have a food processor you can cut the butter into the flour/sugar/salt with a pastry cutter, 2 knives, or rub the butter in using your fingers. Then work the yolk and water in with your hands.
- Alternatively, if you prefer more fruit than cream, you can reverse the order by filling the tart with the fruit and topping with the mascarpone cream. If you would like a thicker fruit filling to make it easier to slice, you can add an extra teaspoon of corn starch.