Thursday, April 15, 2010

Raspberry Almond Tart with Mascarpone Cream

Ever go into a bakery or pastry shop and become seduced by a glistening fruit tart in the glass case? It’s a common scenario, with a very sad ending. You get it home, and, with great expectations, sit down to enjoy your treasure, only to find that it’s not even close to what you expected. It’s got a tough crust (so that it can be knocked around in the bakery without breaking), way-too-thick pastry cream, flavorless fruit and gloppy glaze. Unless you live in Paris or anywhere near a world-class patisserie, your only choice is to make your own fruit tart, where you can produce a tender, flaky crust, and ensure that the main ingredient, your fruit, is perfectly fresh and flavorful. 
I opted to make a raspberry tart with a frangipane (almond cream) filling instead of a pastry cream. I did this because I love the combination of raspberries and almond, not because I have anything against pastry cream. In fact, I love pastry cream, especially when it’s lightened with whipped cream. My husband, however, was slightly disappointed with my tart. Without the pastry cream, he said, it was just too dry for him. Even when he heaped on the Mascarpone Cream. 

Personally, I thought it was delicious, but I understand his point—if you’re expecting the creamy filling, you may be disappointed. So my advice is this: if you really want it, just cut the almond cream recipe in half, and top it off with some pastry cream (if anyone needs a recipe, just let me know, and I’ll post one). No need for the preserves, then, just top with the raspberries and continue with the original recipe. As they say, you live and learn.

Addendum: Dicky claims he never said my tart was dry. He was just expecting some cream filling, and there wasn't any.

Raspberry Almond Tart with Mascarpone Cream

Make one 9-inch tart

Tart Dough:
1 cup (121 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (28 g) cake flour
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and frozen for 20 minutes
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons ice water

Almond Cream:
11 (5 ½ oz) tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 (120 g) cup confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (150 g) finely ground blanched almonds
7 tablespoons (60 g) all-purpose flour

½ cup raspberry preserves
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries

Glaze and Garnish:
¼ cup red currant jelly
A few mint leaves, finely chopped
Finely chopped pistachio nuts

Mascarpone Cream:
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup (123 g) mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the tart dough:
1. Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and shortening and toss lightly to coat with flour. Blend the fat and flour with about five 1-second pulses or until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some of the butter pieces the size of peas. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process continuously until the dough begins to clump together.  Do not over-process; the dough should not form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick 4-inch wide disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes.
2. Place unwrapped dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, lifting and rotating the dough often, while dusting the work suface and dough lightly with flour as necessary. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll the pin over the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at 1/2-inch intervals. Refrigerate the dough in the pan for 20 minutes to firm up the dough. If you like, roll out the dough scraps and cut them into small heart shapes. Bake for 7-8 minutes. These can be used to garnish the tart.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Right before baking, line the dough with aluminum foil or parchment paper and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully lift the foil (along with the weights) out of the tart pan and bake the crust for 10 minutes longer. Leave the oven on. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the Almond Cream:
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The mixture will not be smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and ground almonds. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, mixing just until blended.
5. Scrape the Almond Cream into the cooled tart shell and smooth it into an even layer. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Finish the tart:
6. Spread the tart with the raspberry preserves. Top with the fresh raspberries in concentric circles, covering the top completely.
7. Place the red currant jelly in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 15-20 minutes, until melted. Brush the raspberries with the glaze. Sprinkle the mint and pistachios on top. Garnish with the small pastry hearts.

Make the Mascarpone Cream:
8. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat at high speed until medium peaks form.

To serve:
9. Serve a slice of the tart with a generous dollop of Mascarpone Cream.