Sweet Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups fresh blackberries or other berries
1/4 cup (60 ml) blackberry or raspberry jam
Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.
Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate about one hour or until firm.
Have ready an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.
When the pastry is the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and freeze for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove weights and continue to bake for about 5 - 10 minutes or until the crust is cooked through. Remove from oven and completely cool the crust on a wire rack before filling.
Cream Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer or wire whisk) beat the mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract just until soft peaks form.
To Assemble Tart: To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto your serving plate.
Spread the cream onto the tart, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon or with an offset spatula. Scatter the blackberries on top of the cream.
In a small saucepan, warm the jam. Strain to remove any large lumps of fruit, and then gently brush or spoon the jam over the berries. This step will keep the berries from drying out and also makes them nice and shiny. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.
Serves about 6 - 8 people.
My introduction to tart making began about 15 years ago when I took a week long patisserie class at London's Le Cordon Bleu. During that week we learned how to make all kinds of tarts; lemon, chocolate, almond, apple, and fruit. My favorite, by far, was the fruit tart. Even today I love the combination of a sweet buttery crust, a rich silky cream, and juicy ripe fruit. And I especially like glazing the fruit with jam, as it makes the tart almost sparkle.
Fruit tarts always begin with a pre-baked cookie-like pastry that is sweet, buttery and crisp. While the classic filling for fruit tarts may be pastry cream, for this tart I decided to use an uncooked filling made simply by whipping together rich mascarpone cheese and heavy cream. It is lovely, so velvety smooth and creamy with just a hint of sugar and vanilla. For those who are unfamiliar with Mascarpone cheese it is a soft unripened cheese that belongs to the cream cheese family. It comes from Switzerland and Italy and is a thick, buttery-rich, sweet and velvety, ivory-colored cheese produced from cow's milk that has the texture of sour cream. It is sold in plastic eight ounce tubs and can be found in specialty food stores and in the deli section of some grocery stores. Now, once the filling is spread onto the baked pastry shell, we then garnish the tart with fresh blackberries. The final touch is to glaze the blackberries with warm jam which gives them a nice shine and keeps them from drying out.
Most recipes advise to serve this tart the same day as it is assembled so the tart shell will be crisp. However, if you prefer a softer pastry crust, make the tart the day before serving and store it overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.