Tarts are deceptive. They look so beautiful, with their delicate fluted crusts, cream colored filling, and sumptuous fruit toppings, and yet they are ridiculously easy to make. Even if you haven’t yet mastered pie crust – and I count myself among your number – you can cheat and make a crumb crust, like I did. And with all the fresh berries that are making their way into markets nowadays, just hinting at the summer abundance that’s to come, it’s a perfect time to get your tart on.
These blackberry tartlets are actually an attempt to recreate a tart that figures very fondly in my memory. I made it for Wonk the Plank and my parents on the Fourth of July two years ago, on Wonk’s first-ever visit to Oregon, and one of his very few visits to the West Coast ever. The tart had a ginger cookie crumb crust, mascarpone filling, and was topped with fresh nectarines. The slight heat of the ginger against the creamy filing and sweet fruit was absolutely to die for.
I figured that recreating a wheat-free version of the dessert for my May Baking Project would be relatively simple – just swap out the ginger snaps in the crumb crust with a wheat-free version. My only problem – as you can clearly see from the photos – is that I wasn’t able to get the crusts out of their molds in tact. Granted, these are not false-bottomed tartlet molds, and the more I think about it the more I think there was never really a way to get the crusts out without a false bottom. Another thing to add to the shopping list.
But embarrassing crust problems aside, the rest of the tartlets was a snap. The only other thing you have to do is wash the berries and whip together some heavy cream, mascarpone, and a little sugar. And then it’s just a matter of assembling – spooning the cream into the crust and topping with berries. If you want to get fancy you can glaze the berries with some blackberry preserves that you’ve warmed over the stove. But I wasn’t in the mood for being fancy, and left the berries as is.
Considering that this took me such little effort, I’m embarrassed at just how much I loved the finished result. The slightly spicy flavor of the gingersnaps in the crust contrasts with the sweet, creamy filling, which offsets the sweet and tangy flavor of the blackberries.
You could make many variations on this tart – swapping the gingersnaps for graham crackers, swapping the blackberries for strawberries or raspberries. In fact, if you’re in need of a mental break this afternoon, I suggest sitting down and brainstorming your ultimate tart combination. I did this last night, and have already decided that I just have to make one with a chocolate cookie crust, mascarpone filling, and topped with strawberries and chocolate shavings. Maybe next week?
Gluten-Free Blackberry Ginger Tartlets with Mascarpone Cream
8 oz wheat and/or gluten free ginger snaps
4 tbs butter, melted
4 oz mascarpone cream
1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tbs sugar
Approximately 2 pints blackberries, rinsed and drained.
Makes four four-inch tartlets.
Process your cookies in a food processor or blender until they are reduced to fine crumbs. If you are without one of these appliances, you can place your cookies in a plastic bag, seal, and crush the cookies with a rolling pin until they are appropriately crumb-like. Place crumbs in a medium bowl, add the butter, and mix until combined. Press the sandy mixture into your tartlet molds (I used molds that are four inches in diameter), using the bottom rim of a water glass to press the mixture into the corners.
Meanwhile, whip your mascarpone , cream, and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into the tartlets and smooth the tops. At this point, if you’re fortunate enough to posses false-bottomed tartlet molds, you can remove them from the molds.
Top each tart with blackberries as desired (you will probably have a few berries leftover. And that’s okay), and serve.