A simple, Italian-style fresh strawberry tart with a creamy, light mascarpone and yogurt filling and a cookie pastry crust.
Even if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth, it will be easy to fall in love with this easy, elegant dessert recipe — a strawberry mascarpone crostata (the Italian word for tart).
This tart is perfect for cheesecake lovers, but it’s not as filling.
It’s light and not too sweet, featuring fresh strawberries arranged on top of a simple open-faced tart.
The creamy mascarpone filling, a mixture of mascarpone cheese and thick Greek-style yogurt, has a light cheesecake-like texture.
Pasta Frolla: Italian short Pastry Dough
I modified a basic Italian short pastry dough recipe, or pasta frolla to make the crostata crust.
You don’t even need to pre-bake the pastry, which is definitely a plus when it comes to baking any kind of tart.
Pasta frolla dough bakes up with a texture like a soft shortbread cookie, and it doesn’t overpower the cream cheese filling.
Compared to a traditional pie dough, I find pasta frolla more forgiving to work with.
Plus, I love that it’s easily patchable if it tears while rolling out or arranging in the pan.
How to make pasta frolla in a food processor:
To make the dough easily and quickly, I use a food processor to pulse flour, butter, sugar, egg, milk and baking powder before adding some milk.
When the dough just starts to gather, dump it onto a floured surface, pat into a disc and wrap in plastic.
Then stash in the fridge for an hour or up to 2 days ahead of making the crostata.
Chilling the dough will make your life easier when it’s time to roll it out, as it otherwise can be a bit soft.
How to serve Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
Crostata tart will keep for a day or two, lightly covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
Keep the tart cold until you want to serve it, which will make slicing easier.
To get clean slices, warm a large, sharp knife under hot running water for a minute.
Wipe the knife with a clean towel, then slice the crostata into squares if using a 9-inch square tart pan like the one shown in the photos, or in wedges if using a 11-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.
Top the tart with fruit just before serving, if possible.
If you’re not into strawberries, get creative and use another type of summer berry as the topping.
Ripe peaches, nectarines or figs are fantastic with the mascarpone filling. In the fall or winter, pomegranate seeds or roasted spiced apples would be perfect on top.
Drizzle with honey or lightly sprinkle with sugar for extra sweetness — whatever you love!
Italian Strawberry Mascarpone Tart
Makes one 11-inch tart
- 2 1/3 cups (300 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (80 g) sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ sticks, 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 6 ounces (170 g) Greek-style yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup (110 g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (30 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 quart (1 l) strawberries, hulled and sliced
- Honey, sugar, fresh basil or mint leaves (optional)
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.
- Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk. Pour through the feed tube 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 work bowl 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 inflexible, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
- Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment and roll the dough out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 10-inch tart pan with removable base.
- 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 (save the scraps, see note).Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
Make the filling
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Beat the mascarpone, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor until very smooth. Scrape into the tart pan.
- Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the filling no longer jiggles in the center, 30 – 37 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, then remove the sides of the pan. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Just before serving, arrange the strawberries over the top of the tart or pile them up for a more rustic presentation.
- Drizzle with honey or sprinkle with sugar to taste and garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves, if you like.
- Save and re-roll the pastry scraps. They’re great cut into simple cookies shapes, baked for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.
- The tart will keep for a day or two, lightly covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
- Top the tart with fruit just before serving.