Strawberry mascarpone tart with lavender vanilla whipped cream

May 24th, 2010

Strawberry mascarpone tart with lavender vanilla whipped cream

Bloom where you are planted.  I’ve been saying this to myself for awhile now.

Single and in my early twenties, I lived outside of Washington D.C. and worked in the city where it was easy to do things like take photography, politics, and religion classes at night after work at the Smithsonian, and hop over to Old Town Alexandria on weekends to pick up groceries at Trader Joe’s.

After Brian and I married almost seven years ago now, we moved to a Virginia suburb to be closer to his family. Life in the suburbs is different from city life. There is no Smithsonian, no coffee shops within walking distance, and TJ’s is over half an hour away.

But you know what? Half a mile down the street is a farmer’s market where I can walk to buy fresh produce all summer long. And right next door to that market every spring is a strawberry farm where I can pick some pretty amazing fresh berries.

I’m also able to work from home and not have to commute an hour each way to work. And best of all, here we can afford enough land that Brian can experiment with just about every gardening idea he can dream up (the “big” garden has been tilled and the first plants are in the ground – hop rhizomes).

So, though I love the hum and culture of city life, I am trying to bloom where I am currently planted. Literally and figuratively.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day I took little Jonathan to the strawberry farm to pick berries. I’ve been feeding him strawberries already this spring, so I could see the excitement and questioning in his eyes as he saw the berries on the vines. It was such a perfect expression of surprise and wonderment that came over his face when I picked a berry in the field and let him taste. Such sweetness.

I came home and while Jonathan napped – worn through from the sun and humid coastal VA heat, I made this strawberry mascarpone pie/tart with lavender vanilla whipped cream to take to lunch with Brian’s family the next day.

Strawberry pieStrawberry mascarpone pie with lavender vanilla whipped cream

I’ve always loved strawberry pie. My mom used to make it simply growing up using sliced strawberries and strawberry gelatin on a flaky crust served with cool whip.

Here I wanted to capture everything I loved about Mom’s pie, but eliminate the strawberry gelatin that contains food colorings and artificial flavorings. I also love mascarpone cheese with, well – just about everything, so I thought adding a thick slick of honeyed mascarpone accented by lemon zest beneath the strawberries would be lovely. I also adore strawberries and lavender together, so I made fresh lavender vanilla whipped cream to serve alongside.

There are no pictures of the tart cut since I took it the next day to lunch and didn’t want to be hovering over people’s plates trying to grab a picture, and it went quickly.

I liked everything about this pie/tart except my crust shriveled and was a bit dense – I’m doing well on savory tart crusts, but a simple flaky pie crust (with no partially hydrogenated oils) seems to be eluding me – I welcome links to any favorite recipes!

I ended up with leftover whipped cream, so I decided to pulse it in the food processor and make lavender vanilla butter. It worked beautifully!

With the butter I made part whole wheat lavender rosemary shortbread cookies inspired by this and lavender accented granola bars with dried cherries, coconut, apricots, cocoa nibs and almond butter, inspired by this recipe – both of which were wonderful and Jonathan enjoyed for over a week.

I have been working hard on my business and am trying to stick to a reduced carb diet, which has left me feeling quite tired (must remember to take vitamins, drink more water, get more sleep, and still treat myself), but I hope to be back in order shortly. I hope you are well.

Fresh strawberry mascarpone tart

1 crust for 9 inch pie pan or 9 or 10 inch tart pan
1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and tops trimmed
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened *
2 teaspoons honey
pinch of fine grain sea salt
zest from 1 lemon
lavender vanilla whipped cream (recipe following)

Prepare and bake pie crust according to recipe instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the honey, pinch of sea salt (no more than 1/8 teaspoon), and lemon zest into the mascarpone cheese in a medium bowl. Spread cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the baked pie crust and place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the pie.

Puree half of the strawberries in a food processor (alternately you could simply mash them in the pan) and place in a medium saucepan with the sugar over medium heat, bringing to a boil while stirring frequently.

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl and gradually stir into the strawberry sugar mixture. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened into a thick syrup, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Mix the remaining half of the strawberries with the strawberry glaze either in the pan (if large enough) or in a large bowl in order to evenly coat the berries. Gently pour coated strawberries into the pie shell on top of the cheese mixture along with all extra strawberry glaze/syrup. Arrange strawberries to your liking and chill pie in the fridge for several hours (allow at least 6+ hours) before slicing. Serve with lavender vanilla whipped cream.

* If you cannot find mascarpone cheese, cream cheese would make a nice substitute

Lavender vanilla whipped cream and lavender vanilla butter

1 pint heavy whipping cream, very cold
1 teaspoon lavender buds, crushed and broken, using a food processor or mortar and pestle
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or natural raw sugar

Using a hand mixer or standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine all ingredients and whip till soft cream peaks form.

If you end up with leftover whipped cream, you can make lavender vanilla butter by placing whipped cream into the food processor and pulsing till the fat separates from the liquid. Strain the “buttermilk” from the solid, and you have butter!

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Posted in Dessert | 29 Comments »

29 Responses to “Strawberry mascarpone tart with lavender vanilla whipped cream”

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  1. It sounds like you are not only blooming where you are planted–but flourishing! I miss city life a bit too, but love the slow pace of a small town. No pressure to be anything YOU AREN’T! This strawberry pie reminds me of my mom’s as well. A bit more sophisticated, but holding all the right elements. LOVE IT!

    • laura says:

      Thanks, Sommer! I miss being in the middle of things in the city, but enjoy having land where we are at now. ( :

  2. grace says:

    i love that adage–it’s been on the sidebar of my blog since the beginning! this is an absolutely gorgeous tart, laura, and i’m sure it tastes like heaven. good luck continuing to bloom and i hope you feel more energized soon! :)

  3. Barbara says:

    It sounds to me as though you are blooming beautifully, Laura! It is such a true adage and an important one to remember as we move through life, adjusting to new homes and circumstances all the time.
    I have a really old recipe for a strawberry pie that a friend gave me years ago. And I am definitely going to use your lavender cream next time I make it.
    Also love the idea of lavender butter!

  4. What a beautiful post. I love DC and have always wanted to live there in the hub of it all, but I will take the quiet and peace any day. The strawberry pie looks divine.

    • laura says:

      Thank you – D.C. is a nice city and I still try to make it up there whenever possible. I do enjoy having more nature and quiet around where I live presently, though!

  5. Tracy says:

    That tart says summer to me. Something to chase a burger after a nice long day at the beach. Satisfied. Content. Relaxed. All things good…It would be gone in the blink of an eye.

    • laura says:

      Thanks, Tracy – you’ve made me want a burger, and I’m not even much of a burger fan – fresh strawberries do scream summer anticipation!

  6. redmenace says:

    I love that you found something so special out in the burbs. Farmers markets are a true joy. Your tart looks amazing. I’ve never made a strawberry tart or pie and I’m not sure I could compete with such a gorgeous creation! Lovely lovely blog!

    • laura says:

      Thank you! Yes, I am working on appreciating the best parts of where I currently live – and the farmer’s market and our land are definitely high on the list. ( :

  7. Mom says:

    La, this looks very intriguing, certainly more sophisticated than the one I have always fixed. I like the fact that you got rid of the strawberry jello, inspiring me to change recipes. By the way, When you said it was humid, my pie crust alarm bells went off. Sometimes the weather does make a big difference when you’re making crust.

    • laura says:

      Thanks Mom – I’m just not a pro at crust making yet I don’t think – but the humidity might have made a difference! Your strawberry pie will always be my inspiration – don’t tell but I actually bought the strawberry gelatin and then started researching how to make it without, so this was an experiment, but it turned out great. Your pie crusts are wonderful – I should have called you first. ( : XO

      • Joel says:

        As soon as the photos started loading, I knew what was coming! The family strawberry pie recipe with the jello filling is one of my favourite desserts, regardless of the fact that jello isn’t exactly the height of culinary sophistication!

        I’m really intrigued to try this refined version using macerated strawberries and cornstarch and it’s got me thinking that a similar technique using pureed and strained strawberries and gelatin sheets might work and also yield that clear sauce that the jello filling always achieved, but without the artificial colours and flavours.

        In any case, brilliant photos again Laura and a healthy dose of inspiration (especially on the lavender cream) for me to get out into the fields once PYO strawberry season starts over here – at the moment everyone is still digging for asparagus.

        • laura says:

          Joel – thank you so much! – So good to hear from you here. Gelatin sheets? I’ve never heard of such a thing – wonder if we have them in the States? Your climate is obviously cooler as our asparagus was done a month back and strawberries are now gone as well. BTW, I just checked out your new site and am excited to see more! Miss you cousin – would love to have you visit!

  8. Amy says:

    So much lavender love! I love mascarpone, too, and it would fit well into my current post-wisdom-teeth removal diet of very soft foods. That’s great that you got to take Jonathon berry picking. I have sweet memories of doing that when I was a kid.

    • laura says:

      Thanks Amy! I owe all the lavender love to you – funny thing is I have not been eating much of all this I have been cooking – but everyone else seems to be enjoying it! ( :

  9. Cherine says:

    This is mouthwatering!! just irresistible :)

  10. Sara Creekmore says:

    Will definitely be trying that first chance I get. Florida is known for strawberries, so I should be able to take advantage of fresh berries. I was also considering getting a topsy-turvy strawberry planter for fun. I wonder if anyone has had luck with it?

    • laura says:

      Thanks Sara – I envy your FL produce! We tried a topsy turvy tomato planter a few years back and it didn’t fare so well, however, it could have been user error! I’d love to know how they turn out if you give it a try. ( :

  11. Sara Creekmore says:

    Hey Laura,
    I would love to make cupcakes. I always loved strawberry cake (betty crocker) growing up and wonder if you have ever come across a from-scratch version of it. Then the question is what kind of frosting? I recently bought a muffin/cupcake pan from W&S and am dying to break it in…
    :)

  12. Such a pretty and delicious mascarpone tart.

  13. Mmm… I also grew up with my mom making strawberry pies, with the red gelatin and graham cracker crust. So nostalgic! And I love this “grown up” version.
    I just discovered your blog recently and I love it! It’s such a treat to discover a high quality food blog :) Thanks for what you do!

    • laura says:

      Thank you, La Chelle! I love strawberry pie and I hope my little boy will have fond memories of such from his childhood, just as I do!

  14. Joy says:

    Oh Laura these tarts are beautiful!! And the lavender vanilla whipped cream, aaah just sounds so perfect :) Though I am sure you miss living in the City, I am happy to hear you are enjoying life in suburbia. Collin has always wanted to live on a ranch and grow our own food and raise cattle — I can see the experience being very serene and to be so closely tied to nature I think would be great. Beautiful post!

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