prosecco peach cream tart

The most perfect fruit has to be a perfect peach ~ Alice Waters

Last year, a February freeze  (the Valentine’s day massacre ) decimated the peach crop in the Northeast. And early this spring, another round of erratic weather did the same thing in Georgia and South Carolina. Those two states (along with California and New Jersey) are top peach growers in the United States. Events like that mean availability is a total wipeout. Which means there will be no peaches.

What would summer be without peaches — or tomatoes?! Certain foods define the fleeting moments of summer months, the way asparagus and ramps do in the spring and apples in the fall. Nature does what nature will, but missing out on sweet, luscious peaches seems like a tragedy. At least it does for me, but that’s based completely on my life priorities.

Sure, you can eat a piece of fruit grown elsewhere and shipped to market in a giant refrigerated truck — which I’m not knocking! Costco white nectarines are amazing right now — but there’s just nothing like eating fruit picked when it’s ripe. Never refrigerated, from tree, to hand, to mouth.

Peaches are in their prime right now, no matter where you find them. When you’re tired of devouring them over the kitchen sink, this tart is a simple way to make dessert out of one of summer’s treasures.  It’s completely no-bake,  with an almond-cookie crust, chilled cream cheese filling and refreshing wine-soaked peaches.

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italian jam tart

italian jam tart recipe

This is a homey Italian grandma dessert, plain and simple. The crust is a basic sweet dough easily made in a food processor and the filling is good quality jam. I used wild blueberry in this one.

I had an Italian grandma – two, in fact – but I can’ t remember if either one ever baked a jam tart. There wasn’t a tremendous amount of baking in their kitchens, come to think of it.  There were so many traditional family bakeries in the neighborhood that I’m guessing sweets became something my nonnas delegated to the professionals.

There wasn’t a homemade crostata di marmellata, but there was almost always a brown bakery box tied with string sitting in the pantry or on the kitchen table.

italian jam tart

While we wait for fresh summer fruit to come into season, jam tarts come to the rescue. Try to use really good quality preserves, the kind with lots of visible fruit and not a ton of sugar. Hint – the fruit or berry flavoring the jam should be the first ingredient listed, followed soon after by sugar.

If you’re lucky to get your hands on homemade jam, this has your name on it.

italian jam tart

italian blueberry jam tart

Yield: one 9-inch tart

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 cups good quality wild blueberry preserves (or other fruit)

Instructions

  1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor 3 or 4 times to blend; scatter the butter over the flour and process until the mixture looks sandy and you can’t see any butter chunks.
  2. Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk; add to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to come together (but not until the mixture forms a ball over the blade which will toughen the dough). Add some ice water drop by drop if it seems dry. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it gently to form a ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour until firm but not hard. If the dough gets too cold and seems hard, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
  3. Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Slice off 1/3 of the dough and set it aside, covered loosely with a floured towel.
  4. Place the remaining 2/3 dough between two large pieces of lightly floured parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the parchment, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trimming the top edges of the dough flush with the pan by running the rolling pin over the top.
  5. Spread the jam evenly over the tart.
  6. To make the lattice, roll the reserved 1/3 portion of the dough on a floured surface to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into ½-inch wide strips with a fluted pastry cutter or small, sharp knife.
  7. Lay the strips in a diagonal lattice pattern over the tart, starting in the center with the longest piece, trimming if necessary. Pinch the dough where the edges meet around the diameter of the pan. Put the tart in the refrigerator and chill 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 30 minutes, or until the lattice is golden brown and the jam is bubbling.
  9. Cool to room temperature before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/04/italian-jam-tart/

A version of this post was contributed to Go Bold with Butter. All opinions are my own.

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Here’s my take on a little-black-dress dessert, one you can pull off throughout the holiday season from now to Valentine’s day.

The crust is a basic chocolate wafer crumble pressed into a tart pan, and the filling is cocoa-flavored mascarpone topped with glistening cranberries. It manages to be glamorous, festive, and simple all at the same time.

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart

Yield: 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 30 chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions

  1. For the topping: Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup water in a small bowl and let soften 10 minutes. Put the cranberries in a saucepan with the sugar and ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil; stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes or so; you want to soften the cranberries but retain their plump shape.
  2. Drain the cranberries over a bowl. Add the gelatin to the juice in the bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the cranberries to the juice, stirring gently. Cover and chill until the mixture thickens, about 8 hours or overnight.
  3. For the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the cookies, sugar and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is moistened and holds together when you pinch it. Press the crumbs on to the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake the crust 10 -12 minutes; cool completely on a rack.
  4. For the filling: Beat the mascarpone, sugar, cocoa and cream together just until spreadable. Spread the filling over the cooled crust and top with the cranberries. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/11/cranberry-cocoa-cream-tart/