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This weekend was one of those weekends where everything felt possible. Piercing blue skies. Bright, warm sun. Crystal clear waters. It was a perfect excuse to head off the Island and spend the afternoon roaming around the ‘mainland’. A few hours later, I had snagged up several pints of gorgeous organic strawberries and my favorite mascarpone cheese. I knew exactly what was next.

Given the delicate and insanely creamy nature of mascarpone, triple cream purists would likely not fuss one bit more with such a splendid gift from all those well-fed cows in Lombardy. But I was feeling quite determined and thought a nice, happy-go-lucky, tart would be just the ending for such a happy day.

mascarpone-strawberry-tart

Mascarpone Strawberry Tart
Tweaked from Sunset Magazine, June 2005, yields 8-10 servings

This recipe cheats a wee bit with the quick crust, so try to get some higher quality wafers. The chocolate combined with the mascarpone and strawberries – they were all made for each other. A plain, butter crust would only be second best (and much more work) next to this fierce combination. You can make this tart up to one day ahead and top with strawberries just before serving. So easy, so delicious!

Music Pairing: Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles, Abbey Road

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces chocolate water cookies, broken into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 tbsp unsalted melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups strawberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Place cookies in a 1-quart zip-lock plastic bag and seal. With a rolling pin, crush cookies into fine crumbs. Pour 2 cups of the crumbs into a bowl and mix with melted butter, sugar, and espresso powder. Press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9.5-inch tart pan with removable rim (if you prefer a thinner crust, use a 10-inch tart pan).
  2. In another bowl, with mixer on medium, beat mascarpone, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and salt.
  3. Place tart pan in a 12- by 16-inch rimmed baking pan (do not, under any circumstances, skip this – the pan catches any drippings from the filling and prevents the crust from overbrowning) and set on center rack of preheated oven. Pour filling into chocolate crust. Bake until filling is pale golden and barely set in the center when you gently shake pan, 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Remove tart from oven and let cool on a rack about 30 minutes, then chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day (cover tart once cold).
  5. Shortly before serving, remove rim from pan. Rinse, stem, and thinly slice strawberries. Arrange in a circular or spiral pattern on top of the tart, overlapping slices slightly.

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