Saturday, May 21, 2016

Peaches and Mascarpone Spelled Dessert

Last week I had planned to make a cake and ice it with (what I thought was) a recipe using mascarpone cheese. I bought two containers of mascarpone just for this. Until I went to the recipe to see what else was in it - only to find it had no mascarpone at all. What?!?

Totally confused, I searched the magazine and found zero uses for mascarpone cheese in an icing. How I misled myself into this belief is beyond me, but hey, I am chalking it up to fate. It is a great excuse to use mascarpone in other applications. Yesterday was the first one, and I came up with an idea for a tart. 

Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust
Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust

On Mascarpone

Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust
Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust
If anyone in the blogging world does not yet know what mascarpone cheese is, the simple explanation is that it is an Italian version of cream cheese. While I have absolutely nothing against good old Philly cream cheese, mascarpone just has a better flavor, a better feel, just more depth of character. If Philly is your everyday face, then mascarpone is your totally dressed-up face. This is my own feeling on the matter. Still, maybe you get the picture.

Unlike Philly, one thing to caution about macarpone: it is best not to over beat it, as it becomes grainy very easily. That said, mascarpone can strengthen and stabilize whipped cream so that it will stand up to refrigeration for days without weeping or losing its shape and texture. This makes any pie with a whipped cream topping (Key Lime, anyone) a total breeze to make slightly in advance rather than having to do things last minute. Pipe rosettes of this stable whipped cream onto a cheesecake for decoration. Use it between cake layers. It has been the most wonderful discovery I've made in years.To make this wonderful stable whipped cream, here is what I do:

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Mascarpone Whipped CreamMakes about 3 cups

1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

With a mixer, beat the one cup of whipping cream until it holds very soft peaks. Add in the confectioners' sugar and beat until it holds stiff peaks. Stop the mixer and add in the mascarpone cream. Beat again just until combined. Beating too long will cause the mascarpone to look curdled.

Okay, I so totally lost my train of thought there, but my goal is to tell you about the wonderful dessert tart I came up with yesterday. It was one of those experiments that went totally right. While rich, it was not terribly sweet, and totally full of flavor. I called it Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust. A mouthful to say, but wait till you taste it. 

I used a 9-inch tart pan with a removable rim, so I could set the finished tart onto a fancy plate for serving. The only aspect of this dessert that I would do any differently is to ensure that the crust is pressed all the way up the sides of the tart pan's rim. The reason for this is that when I filled the shell with the mascarpone filling, it reached higher than the crust. The filling is just the slightest bit runny, and with the peaches set on after the filling, it reached much higher. It did not overflow or leak when baking, however I did have to go all around the pan, loosening the filling and crust from the fluted rim of the tart pan. Not horrible, but it was a bit time consuming. Some of the crust still stuck a bit, which you can see on the photo at top of page. Made absolutely no difference to the flavor though!

If you use a tart pan that does not have a removable rim, also be sure to press the crust mixture high, which ensures the slices can be cut and removed for serving with ease. The tart is not terribly thick / deep, so the portions are easy to handle, even after a large meal.  

For the St. Germain liqueur, if not using, sprinkle a little water into the crust, if needed, and for the filling just substitute a teaspoon of vanilla and a little water, if needed.

Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust

Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust
Peach Mascarpone Tart with Tarragon Shortbread Crust
Makes one 9 or 10-inch tart

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh tarragon
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon St. Germain elderflower liqueur, optional

1 cup (8-ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons St. Germain elderflower liqueur, optional

1 1/2 cups sliced peaches, fresh or frozen

Make crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a tart pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and tarragon in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, Cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Stir in the flour mixture and mix lightly to combine. Add in the elderflower liqueur and toss lightly. Pour into the tart pan and using fingers, press into bottom and sides. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool.

While crust cools, make the filling:  In a smaller mixing bowl combine the mascarpone, egg yolks, sugar. Mix together with a fork, or extremely briefly with a hand mixer, to just combine. Add in the liqueur, if using. If not, just add a little vanilla. 

If using fresh peaches, peel and slice the peach(es) into thin wedges, as the filling is not deep. Have them ready.

Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust and set the peach wedges on top. The peaches might be substituted with berries, if preferred. Bake the tart until the filling is just set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before serving. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.