Mascarpone and blackberry chocolate tart
Two things happened last month just before I was getting ready to head to Tuscany for 3 months. One was a visit to a wonderful farm where we picked fresh hazelnuts and wild blackberries. The other was that I made mascarpone at home for the first time. A lot of it.
What to do with a fridge full of freshly made mascarpone after recipe testing a few times? Well, it certainly can’t go to waste. And there are only so many tiramisu one can eat (really). So I made Elizabeth David’s tagliatelle with mascarpone and walnuts (a winner, also because it can be whipped up in a pinch) and also threw mascarpone on this pizza with speck. But I couldn’t help going back to dessert, especially since I had a fresh haul of blackberries that don’t like waiting around to be used.
The farm visit was meant for hazelnut picking — and there’s plenty more on that to come later — but we couldn’t help ourselves after arriving at the farm and being greeted with a bowl of fresh blackberries and a wonderful frangipane tart dotted with them, we decided to gather some more. They go beautifully with the bittersweet cocoa of the crust and the sweet creaminess of homemade mascarpone in this simple tart.
Good quality mascarpone is hard to come by outside of Italy. When you’ve tasted freshly made mascarpone, it’ll be hard to go back to anything you can find in the supermarket. This is so unbelievably simple, you’ll ask yourself why you never tried this before.
It goes without saying that the better quality cream you use, the better quality mascarpone you will have. If you want to be precise, a candy thermometer and some muslin or cheesecloth is all you need, but don’t let that put you off trying this; some good timing, careful watching and a clean tea towel will also do the trick – the rest is easy.
- Makes about 400 grams
- 600 ml of fresh pouring cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
Using the bain marie (double broiler) method means that you won’t be in danger of boiling or burning the cream. The bottom saucepan should hold a few centimetres of barely simmering water, a heatproof bowl set sturdily over the top should not touch the water. Place the cream in the bowl and gently heat until it reaches 90ºC (this will take about 15 minutes).
Take off the heat and stir through the lemon juice with a wooden spoon. You’ll notice the cream begins to get slightly thicker, coating the back of the spoon, but other than that you won’t see much else happen. Don’t be disheartened, the magic happens overnight. Pour the cream into a sieve lined with several layers of damp cheesecloth or muslin (or a tea towel, folded in half) over a bowl and chill, as is but covered (resist squeezing it in the cloth or touching it). Leave in the fridge overnight or for at least 8 hours before using.
Keeps well for about a week, covered and stored in the fridge.
Mascarpone and blackberry chocolate tart
Despite the two-part recipe, this is really the simplest of preparations. The crust recipe is my go-to Artusi recipe for sweet pastry (the one I use for crostata) with some bittersweet cocoa added to it. You can blind bake the tart ahead of time and fill it just before serving. If chilled, this tart is best when taken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.
For the chocolate pastry base:
- 125 gr plain flour
- 65 gr good butter, cold and chopped into small cubes
- 50 gr powdered (icing) sugar
- 50 gr bitter cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 1 egg, beaten
For the mascarpone tart:
- 380 gr fresh mascarpone (made from 600 ml cream)
- 50 gr icing sugar
- 70 gr plain yoghurt
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 2 punnets of fresh blackberries
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
For the pastry:
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, cocoa powder and egg and combine until the mixture forms a dough. If it’s a little dry, add some cold water, a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. If it’s a little wet, add some flour, a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Let the dough rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes before using.
Roll the dough out on a dry surface dusted with cocoa powder, then place in a pie tin. Chill in the fridge before blind baking at 180ºC for about 15-20 minutes or until the surface is dry to the touch. Let cool completely before using.
For the mascarpone filling:
Whip the mascarpone together with the icing sugar, yoghurt and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Set aside in the fridge.
Place one punnet of blackberries in a saucepan with the raw sugar. Cook the berries until they soften, the sugar dissolves and the liquid produced by the berries cooking reduces slightly. Strain the berries through a fine sieve, collecting the smooth, jammy blackberry liquid in a bowl. Let cool completely.
Fill the chocolate pastry case with the mascarpone filling and top with the fresh blackberries. Pour over the smooth blackberry liquid to cover the entire tart.
My recipe for this tart was also published in The Canberra Times.