One of my absolute favorite things about summer is all of the fresh berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries…I really think I could almost live on berries alone during this time of the year! When my wife and I moved into this house a couple years ago, we planted a bunch of berry plants. They took a couple of years to get established, but now they are finally getting big enough to produce a decent amount of fruit. I’m very excited about this! (That is, if I can keep the chipmunks away…those little buggers are quite determined. My strawberries are planted in a raised bed which at this point looks something like Fort Knox.) While I often eat summer berries right out of the garden, I love including them in recipes, too. One of my favorites is this Red, White, & Berry Tart. It includes a sweetened mascarpone base, and it’s topped with fresh summer berries. Not only is this a pretty simple dessert to make, it is colorful and it also really highlights the natural flavor of the berries. It’s definitely a favorite summer treat in our house!
While I went with fresh strawberries and shredded coconut in this version, this recipe can easily be adapted either to your favorite berries or to whichever berries are in season. This time, I layered strawberries and shredded coconut and then scattered blueberries around the plate along with a piece of the tart. I also used a rectangular tart pan…the red and white color-blocked rows make for a great presentation. (My wife would be so proud of me for using a fashion term here!) But, in truth, you can adjust this recipe to fit whatever size tart pan you happen to have around. And tap into your artistic side when it comes to displaying the berries. (This is also a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen…let them decorate the tart for dessert tonight!)
I prefer to use mascarpone cheese as the primary ingredient in the base of this tart. Mascarpone cheese is Italian in origin, and it is somewhat similar to cream cheese. However, mascarpone cheese is much easier to spread, which makes it ideal for filling a tart. I do also lighten the texture of the mascarpone by folding in a small amount of freshly whipped cream. The pie crust in this recipe tends to be rather flaky, but the tart is still easily filled thanks to the light texture of the mascarpone. Since the mascarpone mixture is not baked, this is an extremely easy dessert to pull together on short notice (especially if you use store-bought pie dough instead of the homemade version). Soon enough it’ll be winter and we’ll be talking root veggies and stews (which isn’t necessarily bad), so get out and enjoy the fresh summer berries while they are in season!