Strawberries are about to be plentiful in my neck of the woods …here in southern New Jersey. We have access to delicious berries from California and Florida throughout most of the year. But you can’t beat the flavor and freshness of fruit that’s just been locally harvested. This beautiful dessert tart gives strawberries a place of honor. A stage to show off their natural beauty. And the combination of texture and flavor is unbeatable.
Try to choose strawberries that are uniform in size. The chocolate wafer cookies pictured here are made by Nabisco and can be found on most grocery store shelves. The cookies must be broken down to fine crumbs. As instructed in the original recipe in Sunset Magazine, you can break the cookies into small pieces, place them in a sturdy plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. I have a Cuisinart mini food chopper that does the job nicely.
If you crush the entire box of cookies, you will have a small amount of crumbs leftover. Don’t discard them! Put them aside in a small covered container. The next time you enjoy a bowl of ice cream, sprinkle some of that chocolate dust on top. So good.
When forming the chocolate crust, there is no need to grease the tart pan. And get your hands in there. It really is the only way to be sure the mixture takes on the shape of the pan, especially the fluted sides.
When adding the mascarpone filling, pour it into the center of the prepared crust. Then carefully spread the filling from the center to the outer edges. If you pull the filling from the outer edge to the center, you’ll end up with chocolate crumbs in the mix.
When baking the tart, be sure to place the pan on a larger rimmed baking sheet to catch the drips. Please, please, please don’t skip that step! I’m sure you would rather not have a puddle of melted butter on the floor of your oven!
Let the tart cool completely before topping with the strawberries. If need be, the tart can be made a day ahead. Just don’t add the strawberries yet. Wait until a short time before serving to top it off.
This is a stunning dessert. And delicious, just as shown. But …if you want to get adventurous, you could pattern several different fruits along with the strawberries. Maybe some sliced kiwi, a ring of blueberries, or raspberries. You get the picture.
mascarpone tart with strawberries
Adapted from Sunset
- 9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, broken into 1/2" pieces
- 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 pound)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 16 ounces mascarpone (or cream cheese)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups strawberries (14 ounces)
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Place cookies in a 1-quart zip-lock plastic bag and seal. With a rolling pin, crush cookies into fine crumbs. Pour 2 cups of the crumbs into a bowl and mix with melted butter, sugar, and espresso powder. Press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable rim.
In another bowl, with a mixer on medium, beat mascarpone, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and salt.
Place tart pan on a 12- by 16-inch rimmed baking pan and set on center rack of preheated oven. Pour filling into chocolate crust.
Bake until filling is pale golden and barely set in the center when you gently shake the pan, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove tart from oven and let cool on a rack about 30 minutes, then chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day (cover tart once cold).
Shortly before serving, remove rim from pan. Rinse, stem, and thinly slice strawberries. Arrange in a circular or spiral pattern on top of the tart, overlapping slices slightly.