If you are looking to entertain some of your closest, dearest friends at some point this spring, you may want to try out this dessert. It's sweet, tart, and beautiful to look at. I mean, who wouldn't want to eat it?
Tart crust is more forgiving than pie pastry. Meaning, if it rips or tears while you are rolling it out, you can fill in the holes with extra pastry dough and no one will know. The pastry dough is soft and pliable and it might be a little frustrating to work with, but it works well in the end and holds up nicely (which is what you want). Now, if you don't want to make your own crust, you can always purchase one at the store. Don't worry, I won't rat you out.
The recipe is done in steps --first, make the lemon curd, then the tart pastry and then put it all together. The lemon curd and tart pastry can be made up to two days ahead of time (keep in the refrigerator). Also, I used an 11-inch tart pan for this. If you have a smaller tart pan, you will have leftover lemon curd cream (oh no!) to use for something else. I'm sure you'll put it to good use. Or you can just eat it. Whichever.
Fresh Berry Lemon Tart
Yield: one 11-inch tart
Remove the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler. This will give you nice long strands of zest. Be sure to remove just the yellow part and not the white (the pith). Place the sugar and zest in a food processor. Pulse the processor several times to break up the lemon zest. Add the butter to the sugar mixture. Process until combined. Add the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, and salt. Process to combine.
Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan set over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (the mixture should register 170ºF on a thermometer when it is cooked), about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes on the counter and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. It will continue to set as it cools.
You can make this by hand with a pastry blender or with a food processor.
By processor: Combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, pour the water through the lid and pulse until the pastry forms a ball in the bowl of the processor. The pastry maybe a little on the wet or soft side. That's ok. Brush your hands with flour and gather the pasty in a ball. Press into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This can be made up to 2 days ahead of time.
Fresh Berry Tart
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the tart pan in a baking sheet (this will help keep it steady as you move it to/from the oven).
Roll out the tart pastry on a well-floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the pastry with flour, too. It should be rolled out to about a 12-inch circle. If the pastry is tearing and being unmanageable, that's ok. Gather up the pastry and press it into the bottom and sides of the tart pan (cutting off any excess), filling in any gaps or holes with leftover pastry dough.
Once the pastry is covering the inside of the tart pan, prick the bottom with a fork. Line the pastry with foil - make sure it meets the edge of pastry and fill the foil with pie weights, dried beans, or dry rice (I use beans). Be sure you fill the foil to the edges of the pan. This will help prevent the pastry from shrinking down.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the foil and beans (or pie weights). Bake for an additional 12-13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
In a bowl, whip together the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until the mixture forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar. Place the lemon curd in a large bowl. Stir it up to loosen the curd. Add about a 1/4 of the cream mixture to the lemon curd and mix well. Fold in the remaining cream mixture, being sure not to over mix.
Pour the mixture into the tart shell and smooth off the top. Refrigerate the tart for at least 1 hour before decorating the top with berries. When ready, decorate the top with berries and cut into pieces to serve.