Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mascarpone Tart with Bloody Oranges--The End-of-Winter Dessert

I usually try to alternate recipes for desserts, main dishes, and appetisers, savory and sweet dishes, but recently I feel like doing desserts all the time. Maybe it is winter and low energy that make me crave for sweets more often, or maybe just seeing all kinds of fruits, especially all the beautiful citrus specimens, make me think about what to do with them.

So I make and bake desserts all the time. And I eat them! Before one disappears, already a next one is taken out of the oven. I have probably twenty different desserts so far photographed and still keep making them. Recently, I have been experimenting with tarts. I like tarts because they can be prepared ahead. I always keep in my refrigerator, and sometimes freeze, tart pastry ready to be baked at any moment. And chilling it for a long time makes it only more short.

It is my Polish habit from the old times to be able to make something sweet when someone calls that he or she will pop in in half an hour for a cup of tea. Well, here of course it is more formal and visits are rather scheduled, so we have plenty of time to be prepared. Nevertheless, I like to have always my tart base in the refrigerator, when I buy seasonal fruits to bake with that.

Yesterday, I bought beautiful bloody oranges. They were so intensively red inside that I decided to preserve their beauty and use them raw for my cake. This time I just baked a very short tart, which is my oldest, most classical, and most frequently used recipe. I made a cream to spread on top and decorated it with segments of fresh oranges.

I decided on this particular tart to obtain the contrast between its bottom, which is rich and very crunchy and the creamy top, which is very soft and fluffy. While making this recipe use preferably a tart pan with a removable bottom, as the cake is extremely delicate and crunchy and it might be difficult to take it out of any other type of cooking form.

Bloody Oranges Tart
(For a 10" tart pan)

The crust

2 cups all purpose flour,
1 and 1/2 stick of butter, room temperature, cut into smaller cubes,
2 egg yolks,
1/4 cup sugar,
1 tsp sour cream.

1. Put the flour in a large bowl and working with hands rub in butter until it acquires a crumb-like texture.
2. In a small bowl stir in together egg yolks, sugar, and sour cream until it makes a very smooth mixture.
3. Add the mixture to the flour and butter crumbs and working with hands form a ball--try to knead it as little as possible because this would make the dough harder when baked. You may need to dust your hands with flour to clean them of the dough.
4. Wrap the dough in a plastic foil and chill in a refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours. This dough can stay in a refrigerator even for 2-3 weeks.
5. Preheat the oven to 370 F.
6. Take a dough out of the refrigerator, and roll it out on a surface dusted lightly with flour into a circle of about 12 inches in diameter.
7. Butter the tart form with a tsp of butter and transfer the dough gently into it using a dough roller. Make all the the edges around the cake even, for a better presentation. Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust becomes gold.
8. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely.


Supreme 3-4 bloody oranges (cut all the skin off and remove membranes to use just the clean segments).

The Mascarpone cream

1 box (about 8 oz) Mascarpone cheese,
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream,
1/2 cup running honey--this is for the European taste, if you like dessert on the sweeter side you may add more honey.
2 tbsp pistachios for decoration.

1. Using electric mixer beat together the cream and the Mascarpone cheese--both ingredients should be the same temperature. It should make almost like whipped cream cheese.
2. Add the honey to the cream mixture and fold it in with a rubber spatula until it blends in the cream.
3. Spread the cream on the tart, decorate with oranges and pistachios.
4. Cool in a refrigerator for about 2 hours, cut, and serve.