In the spring and summer, when your farmers market is brimming with baskets of berries, make this strawberry tart recipe. It's at once light and rich, with a gorgeous, tender crust and a creamy filling that's infused with notes of honey and almond.
What is it?
A tart is a pastry made with a tender, shallow crust. For this tart, you'll bake the crust first, and then fill it with an almond-scented cream topped with fresh strawberries and sliced almonds.
What's in it?
The highlight of this tart is, of course, fresh strawberries which are coated in a glossy glaze made from red currant jelly and almond extract. The filling is a cinch to make, and all you need to do is whip mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and honey together - it has a richness and delicate tartness that provides balance for fresh, vibrant berries.
Lastly, the crust is made with butter and three types of flour, which gives the tart shell a delicate, tender texture and loads of flavor. It's this blend of all-purpose, whole wheat pastry, and superfine almond flours that complement the fresh flavor of the berries and the almond extract that infuses the tart's filling.
Tips for making fruit tarts
Putting together the crust is the most complicated part of making a strawberry tart. A food processor helps the tart shell come together, and you'll need to pay attention to temperature (cold is better), but once you have the tart shell finished assembling the tart is a breeze.
- Grind the sugar until it's superfine. This tart recipe only calls for two tablespoons of sugar, so it may seem like it's easy to skip this step - but grinding the minimally processed sugar to a fine powder means it infuses the crust more efficiently. That translates to smoother flavor and better texture.
- Work with cold butter. Cold butter means that your crust will come out crisp, buttery, and tender. Warm butter, by contrast, can make it tough and cracker-like.
- Use a variety of flours. This recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which keeps the crust tender, while almond flour and whole wheat pastry flour give the crust flavor. Bread flour and other high-protein flours will make for tough, rather than tender, pastry.
- Use a food processor. While you can make a tart dough by hand, a food processor makes the job easier (and quicker).
- Chill the dough before you roll it. Tossing the dough in the fridge before you roll it out so that it keeps its tender, flaky texture.
- Preheat the oven while your tart dough chills to save time.
- Blind bake the crust and use pastry weights. Blind baking means that you bake the tart crust without a filling, and then fill it later. Because the tart shell will puff as it bakes, you'll need to weigh it down first. Line the unbaked tart dough with parchment paper and fill it with pastry weights (or beans). The weight of the beans will keep the tart crust from puffing - which means more filling.
- Make the filling and strawberry topping while the tart shells cool to save time.
Don't have red currant jelly? Substitute 3 tablespoons honey and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
Swap strawberries for other fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, red currants, cherries, peaches, apricots, or plums.
Swap almond-scented pastry cream for the mascarpone and cream cheese filling.
You can substitute homemade noyaux for almond extract, but you can also use other liqueurs, too, including cointreau or framboise.
You glaze classic fruit tarts with red currant jelly which lends both flavor and helps to give the fruit a sheen. You can find red currant jelly online as well as in specialty shops, and you melt it over medium-low heat and then brush or pour it over the assembled tart.
You can make a gluten-free tart shell by substituting all-purpose gluten-free flour for both the all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour. You may need to adjust liquid ingredients, such as water, in order to achieve the right consistency.
You can try swapping the mascarpone, cream cheese, and heavy cream for dairy-free mascarpone alternatives made with cashews and coconut.
Once assembled, you should eat the tart within about 4 hours or the berries may begin to wilt.
Yes, you can make the tart shells up to 2 days in advance (stored at room temperature), and you can make the filling up to 5 days in advance (stored in the fridge). Make the berry topping the day you plan to serve it, and assemble everything within about 4 hours of serving.