Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strawberry Tartlets - IHCC Paint the Town Red!

Ripe strawberries...sweet, juicy and very red...perfect for this week's I Heart Cooking Club theme, Paint the Town Red!
The appearance of local berries usually coincides with Canada Day on July 1st; I like to feature them in a red and white dessert made for the celebration. We're cooking with Yotam Ottolenghi so I chose Tartlets with Fresh Berries, a recipe for a crisp, buttery pastry shell filled with a divine vanilla cream that allowed the berries to be the star.
Strawberry Tartlet
Happily, this dessert was very easy to make. The only element that required much effort was the Sweet Pastry and that came together very quickly in a food processor. Canadian all-purpose flour is higher in protein than British plain flour so I used the same weight of a lower protein pastry flour, and a higher fat, European-style butter. The dough was a dream to work with and baked into a sweet cookie pastry that was perfectly crisp, yet melt-in-your-mouth tender. The added lemon zest in the recipe was a nice complement to the fruit filling.
Sweet Pastry with Mascarpone Cream filling
Not one to let food go to waste, the dough scraps were re-rolled and baked as maple leaf cookies.....not as tender as the tart shells from the first rolling, but still very respectable sugar cookies.
The Mascarpone Cream filling was heavenly.....rich, creamy and a little tangy, made of lightly sweetened mascarpone cheese and Crème Fraîche* with a little vanilla bean paste (instead of essence). Much easier and far more delicious than a traditional pastry cream and with no cooking involved.
I baked the pastry shells from frozen early in the morning (I had made and frozen them a week before) and filled them just before serving.

*Crème Fraîche 
This product is quite expensive here so I prefer to make my own for a fraction of the cost. There are several recipes for homemade on the internet....I use this ratio of buttermilk to cream and it always works:

1 Tbsp buttermilk
1 cup/240ml whipping cream (35% fat)

Mix the ingredients together and allow to sit, covered, 10-24 hours at room temperature until thickened. Refrigerate.  

The recipes for Tartlets with Fresh Berries, Sweet Pastry, Pre-Baked Cases and Mascarpone Cream are from the book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi.


  1. Oh my goodness...you have really outdone yourself with these gorgeous strawberry tartlets. They are simply stunning! The pastry dough looks perfect and I just love the sound of the mascarpone filling. Such a gorgeous dessert.

    P.S. I wanted to tell you that I added you to the hummus roundup that is currently posted over at IHCC. Thanks for joining in the hummus fun!

  2. Your tartlets are beautiful and so are your photos.

  3. How gorgeous are these tartlets! I just can't stop staring at them!

  4. Your tartlets looks so pretty and delicious! I am seriously craving for some right now! Beautiful vibrant choice for the red theme this week!

  5. Oh my these little tarts look delectable! They also make me yearn for strawberries & Summer! This is most definitely one to book mark "must make come summer"

  6. You are really making me jealous with these little tarts. We won't see decent strawberries here really until December, but I think this will be one of the first things I'll be making when they do appear.

  7. Your tartlets are just gorgeous--loving that mascarpone cream. Perfect for the season. ;-)


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