Sometimes, I have great difficulty choosing my favourite fruit. I've always been a strawberry person from a very young age. As a little girl, I would choose strawberry flavoured things over any other - milkshakes, ice creams, candy, you name it. I would be absolutely delighted when my mother allowed me to choose absolutely anything from the specialty bakery we frequented, as I would always, always choose a strawberry tart. But as I've gotten older and strawberries have gotten firmer, paler and sometimes even fuzzier, peaches, raspberries and even ugly duckling pineapple have fought and won my affections. Strawberries sometimes slipped into the back of my mind.
Last week, I bought a five-dollar punnet (obscene, I know) of strawberries and all of the reasons why I loved them rushed back to me, quickly. Each one was perfect, soft, juicy and made me wonder what I was ever thinking to choose any other. Each one cemented strawberries as my all time favourite fruit. I adore strawberries. I always will. Swoon.
Ingredients (makes 8)
Recipe from March issue of delicious
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
100 gms chilled unsalted butter, chopped
2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsps red currant jelly
250 gms mascarpone cheese
500 gms strawberries
For pastry, place flour, 2 tbsps icing sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and half of the vanilla seeds, then whiz until mixture looks like sandy crumbs. Add the egg and process until mixture comes together in a ball. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C and grease eight 10cm wide, 2cm deep loose-bottomed tart tines. Divide dough into eight portions, roll to about 5mm thick and line tins. Chill for a further 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the toffee glaze, place caster sugar in a small pan over a low heat with 2 tbsps of cold water. Stir until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-low and cook, without stirring, for 5 - 6 minutes until golden caramel. Remove from heat and carefully add 1/2 cup water. Return to medium-low heat, add red currant jelly and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
Remove tarts from refrigerator, line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove baking paper and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is a deep gold and is evenly dry. Cool in tins on a wire rack.
Combine mascarpone with remaining icing sugar and vanilla seeds. Fill cooled tart cases with mascarpone mixture, top with berries and drizzle with toffee. Eat ASAP!
As I was making these and keeping them all to our household, I filled each tart shell as needed to keep the pastry fresh and crisp. The toffee mixture can be kept covered, at room temperature and the tart shells in an airtight container for a few days. It's quick and easy to make each tart up as needed and it's certainly worth it if you're serving eight people at once.
You could try this with raspberries or even cherries... but you probably shouldn't.
Recommended baking soundtrack: Beach Fossils - What a Pleasure.