No, seriously. Make them. You won't be sorry.
Saturday started off with such promise. I woke up early, cleaned my kitchen, put out the recycling, played with Mars and came up with a game plan for the day all before 10am. I left my little apartment feeling like I could conquer the world [or at least cross off everything on my to-do list]. I drove over to the farmer's market, parked my car in the lot behind it and set off in search of organic veggies and a stickybun. I chatted with the growers about asparagus and bought some local honey to help with my allergies. I came back with a bag full of rhubarb and a birch beer and returned to my car to find that someone had hit my parked car...twice. [As if one side wasn't enough, they had to hit the other. eesh.]
I have to give myself credit. I'm an anxious, hyper person by nature, but I managed to stay pretty calm at first. My car was only scratched and the damage appeared to be minimal and superficial. It wasn't until I was swarmed by a group of men who kept heckling me and talking down to me that I started to get upset. I called the police to file a report, but they were taking quite a long time to arrive at the scene. Time passed and the group wouldn't leave me [or my car] alone. Eventually, I decided that it wasn't worth dealing with a giant hassle for a few scratches if it meant having to tolerate being harassed while I waited. I called to ask that the call for police be cancelled. As I got in my car to leave, just as one of the men thought it would be oh-so-charming to ask me out to lunch. Really, sir? Really?
When I got home, I felt like my whole day had been ruined. I had intended on making homemade falafel and grilling eggplant, but I had lost my appetite. My mother called and I recounted the whole ordeal to her and she was worried about me, but her questions and suggestions only stressed me out even more. I just wanted to take a nap and forget my afternoon. I forget exactly what happened, but at some point I bucked up, stopped being upset and decided to bake my feelings into something delicious. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been trying to use up what I already have in my apartment. To give you an idea of how much I bake [and how many baking ideas I have that never come to fruition], I had pre-baked mini tart shells in my freezer, several lemons, a container of mascarpone cheese [the last time I counted I had ten kinds of cheese in my refrigerator. I may need an intervention.], and bags upon bags of berries in my freezer. Life had given me lemons, but I mellowed them out with creamy mascarpone and made them beautiful with some berries. It was a sweet ending to a sour situation.
These little tartlets can be as homemade or as store-bought as you'd like. I made my pastry crust from scratch, but you can certainly use a pre-made crust. If the thought of making lemon curd from scratch makes you weary, use store-bought. And, if you've got raspberry bushes in your yard like I do at home, use those. If not, grab some at the farmer's market or the grocery store. Though my berries were frozen, I had bought them at the farmer's market and frozen them myself. I find that the frozen berries in the freezer section are always broken and never look pretty on desserts like this.
Lemon Mascarpone Berry Tartlets
1-9" pie crust [store bought or homemade]
1-8 oz container of mascarpone cheese, at room temperature**
8 oz lemon curd [store bought or homemade]**
raspberries, blackberries or strawberries to garnish
optional: seedless jam [raspberry or strawberry] to glaze
**Note: You can make more or less of the filling, but be sure to keep an equal ratio of curd to mascarpone. If you have extra filling, it would be great in fluted glasses with berries on top or in a trifle with angel food cake or lady fingers. The possibilities are endless!
1. Preheat oven to temperature given by manufacturer's instructions or according to the pie crust recipe. [My recipe called for 375 F]
2. Roll out pie crust. Using tartlet pans as cutters, cut circles out of the pie crust.
3. Take each circle and roll it with a rolling pin to stretch it out a bit. The goal is to get it to cover the inside of the tartlet pan and have enough dough to go up the sides as well.
4. Place each circle into a tartlet pan, pressing against the walls of pan and trimming any excess.
5. Mark the bottom of each tartlet shell with a fork to prevent the shell from puffing up during baking. Blind bake [aka line each shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie beads] for 10 minutes. Take out paper and beads and bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool.
6. In a bowl, cream mascarpone and lemon curd together until smooth. It's important that the mascarpone be at room temperature, else it has a tendency to be lumpy and uncooperative when combined with the lemon curd.
7. Add lemon curd mixture to pie shells, filling each almost to the top of the pie shell.
8. Arrange berries on top of mascarpone.
9. If you choose to glaze your tarts, thin out berry jam of your choice with water until it becomes liquidy, but still slightly viscous. The goal is to have it stay on the berries and make them shine. If you add too much water, it will run off the berries and make your tarts soggy.
10. Grab a fork and enjoy!