Saturday, April 30, 2016

Easy puff pastry tart with mascarpone cream and strawberries

Greek Orthodox Easter (Πάσχα / Pascha) is this Sunday and as it’s accustomed, lamb and goat will be consumed along with various other meat-centered dishes, while tsoureki (the traditional Greek Easter sweet bread) and paschalina koulourakia (Greek Easter cookies) will accompany the much needed post-feast coffee.

Proper dessert, however, doesn’t hold a great place in the celebratory Greek Easter feast. We all certainly need it after all that meat-binging but who has enough space in their tummies to eat it? Well, I do, but I prefer something light, like a tart, an airy mousse or ice cream.

So what could be better than this puff pastry tart with vanilla bean flavored mascarpone and the season’s first strawberries that requires minimal effort to make; I'm sure all those in charge of cooking for the Easter feast will appreciate this dessert.

The buttery puff pastry is flaky and crispy and it is covered with a creamy, vanilla-speckled mascarpone, while the vibrant and juicy fresh strawberries decorate the top and transform this simple and light dessert into a thing of beauty.

Καλή Ανάσταστη και Καλό Πάσχα (Happy Easter) to all my fellow Greeks!! Hope you have the best time with your loved ones.

P.S.1 Some months ago, I created an account on Snapchat. I’m not particularly active there but every now and then, I post something that goes on in my kitchen, a recipe, or my strolls around The Hague. If you have an account there, you can find me by my username: mylilexpatkitch

P.S. 2 More Greek Easter recipes here.

Easy puff pastry tart with mascarpone cream and strawberries

This time, I used ready-made puff pastry, but this tart will be elevated to higher levels of scrumptiousness if you decide to make your own homemade puff pastry (like I did with this tart). Compare the pictures of the two puffs and you will be convinced in an instant.

A final dusting of icing sugar completes the picture, but if you’re feeling more decadent, replace the icing sugar with a generous drizzling of melted dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), like I did with this tart. Also, you could add chopped pistachios or almonds over the top.

As with all fruit-based desserts, the quality and flavor of the fruit plays a major role in the outcome. Use fresh, juicy, tasty and sweet strawberries.

Yield: 1 tart / 6 servings

1 sheet ready-made (or 350 g homemade puff pastry) (trimmed to a 30x20cm rectangle), thawed if frozen
1 small egg, beaten well with a fork

for the mascarpone cream
250 g mascarpone
55 g icing sugar
100 ml cream, full-fat (35%)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of a fresh vanilla bean)

350 g fresh strawberries (around 12)
Icing sugar, for dusting the tart

Special equipment: rolling pin (to roll out homemade puff pastry, if using), baking paper, baking sheet, sieve, pastry brush, stand or hand-held electric mixer, small offset spatula (optional)

Preheat you oven to 190ºC.

Place the sheet of puff pastry on top of a baking sheet lined with baking paper. (If you’re using homemade puff pastry, dust a clean work surface and the top of the dough with a little flour and using a rolling pin, roll it out into an approximately 20 x 30 cm rectangle with a thickness of 3 mm).
Lightly score with a knife a 2 cm border around the edges of the pastry and prick the dough inside that border all over with a fork. This will prevent it from rising too much in the oven.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the pastry with some of the beaten egg and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.
Take the baking sheet out of the oven, transfer carefully the pastry onto a wire rack by lifting up the baking paper, and leave to cool completely.

for the mascarpone cream
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), sieve the icing sugar and add the mascarpone, the cream and the vanilla bean paste (or the seeds of the vanilla bean). Beat with the whisk attachment (or a hand-held mixer) on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to overwhip or the mixture will split.

Note: You can place the mascarpone cream in the fridge for a few hours before using it but it will firm up. I actually did refrigerate mine before spreading it on the pastry and that’s why you see that the mixture looks a bit stiff rather than fluffy. So, if you want yours super fluffy, spread it onto the pastry immediately after beating it and right before serving it.

Rinse the strawberries under cold, running water and dry them well on paper towels or a kitchen towel. Cut them in half lengthwise. No need to hull them.

Once the puff pastry has cooled, cover it evenly with the vanilla flavored mascarpone cream using a small offset spatula (or a regular spatula) and being careful not to cover the border. Arrange the strawberries on top in one layer and sprinkle generously with icing sugar.

Serve your tart immediately, cut into pieces.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful tart, and I have to try your filling - it sounds incredible. Happy Easter to you, Magda. We walked in our neighborhood yesterday and there was a large family celebrating Easter, and it made us think of you. I hope you had a great celebration. xx