LOS ANGELES—Californians should never forget how lucky we are to have fresh produce available nearly year-round. When most of the country must deal with sweet strawberries slowly disappearing at the top of the fall season, we still have green pint baskets available at the local grocer or neighborhood farmers markets. This recipe makes use of those red blasts of fruit in a dessert that may seem laborious, but is actually full of time saving shortcuts. Marinated berries sit atop sweetened mascarpone cheese inside buttery pastry shells. The mini tarts are drizzled with a spiced balsamic reduction. Every component of this dessert can be made ahead of time, which means you can toss the final plate together in just minutes. Grab a pint of strawberries while you can and relive the prime days of summer.
Photograph is Courtesy: Duodishes.com
Strawberry and Cinnamon Balsamic Tartlets – 2 dozen
12 ounces balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large strawberries, hulled and quartered**
1 tablespoon sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 unfold-and-bake pie crusts, thawed*
1. Pour the balsamic vinegar and cinnamon into a shallow saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
2. While the balsamic cools, toss the strawberries with the sugar and lemon zest. Cover and set aside. Mix the mascarpone, lemon zest, vanilla, powdered sugar and salt until combined. Cover and chill.
3. Lay pie crusts on a lightly floured surface and use a 3″ pastry cutter to cut 12 circles from each sheet of dough. Carefully place each circle of dough into the holes of two mini muffin tins, then bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for approximately 12-14 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
4. Once the tart shells have cooled, spoon approximately 1-2 teaspoons of mascarpone into each shell. Top each filled tart shell with a strawberry quarter, being sure to carefully push the berry into the mascarpone to keep it upright.
5. Just before serving, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the tart shells. Serve immediately.
*Trader Joe’s has a frozen pie crust that works perfectly for this recipe. You can always make your own dough.
**You can truly use any fruit with this tartlet recipe. In the photo, you’ll see a few pears. They were caramelized in butter, brown sugar, fresh thyme and vanilla. Delicious!