Some days you just couldn't be bothered. Maybe you don't have two days to devote to making the perfect ice cream. Maybe you're tired and it's hot and you really just want to sleep in. Possibly you have an ironing pile the size of Mt Everest and you've completely run out of clothing. It could be a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, it's great to have a super-easy "go to" dessert in your repertoire that you can whip up with very little effort but which hits the spot, sweet-wise. This is such a recipe.
With stone fruit and berries in season at the moment, it's the perfect time for a fruit tart. But, honestly, who has time to fiddle around with pastry? If you are feeling super-duper lazy, you could start with a frozen shortcrust pastry base - these are readily accessible in the freezer section of your supermarket, and make for a really easy dessert (there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and I do it myself). All you have to do is blind-bake the cases once they thaw, fill them with sweetened whipped cream and top with berries or nectarines. Gold.
In this case, I wanted something easy but which involved a manageable amount of cooking. I was taking the tart to a dinner party and, when your friends are making the effort to put on a Moroccan feast, it's nice if you've actually put some amount of effort into the dessert. But not that much effort - I still wanted my afternoon nap!
So that was how this recipe was born. I have often made crushed biscuit bases for cheesecakes, so I thought I'd use that as the base, and then jazz up the filling by doing half-whipped cream and half-mascarpone. The blood plums I had bought from the Canberra Farmers' Market that morning were a little bland, believe it or not, so I decided to marinate them in vinegar and sugar for an hour or so, which also gave me a little sweet syrup to drizzle over the top when I served the tart. Finally, I scattered some blueberries on top for a little colour variation. The result was delicious, easy and very red-white-and-blue - perfect for Australia Day barbecues if you ask me!
Now, because I was putting the tart together at my friends' place at the last minute - and at the end of a convivial night with a few glasses of wine behind my belt as well - I had a pretty good inkling that I would forget to photograph the end result... and that's exactly what happened. Luckily, realising in advance that this was the likely outcome, I made a mini-tart at home first. This was really for two reasons. Firstly, to photograph for you, dear readers and, secondly, so Mr J could have a taste for his afternoon tea. You can see though, that you could quite easily convert this recipe to make a number of individual portions if you had six or so scone cutters or egg rings to use as improvised mini tart cases.
So here is the recipe. Once you realise how easy and versatile this is, it will quickly become a favourite. Just change the flavourings in the tart base biscuit mix (why not use cinnamon, or orange zest), or add some orange flower water to the whipped cream mix perhaps, or top with whatever fruit is seasonal - make the recipe your own.
Blood plum and mascarpone tart
Crushed biscuit base
- 150 grams arrowroot biscuits (you could also use ginger nuts for a stronger taste, or golliwogs for a chocolate base)
- 60 grams melted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 250 grams mascarpone
- 250 grams whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Marinated blood plums
- 6 medium-sized plums, sliced
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used blood plum finishing vinegar, but balsamic is great too)
The first thing you need to get done is the biscuit base of your tart. Start by preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Now, grab your arrowroot biscuits and break them up into your food processor. Whizz until they become crumbs, then add in your melted butter and lemon zest and whizz briefly until combined.
Now spoon your base mix into your buttered tart case (or cases if you are making individual portions) and use a small tumbler or glass jar to press the mix firmly into the base and sides of the case.
Place into the oven for only around 10 minutes, remove and then leave to cool completely on the bench. When it's completely cool, I recommend storing the base in the fridge until you are ready to fill (and eat) it.
Now, in a bowl with a hand beater or using a Kitchenaid (I love mine and it is worth every penny), whip your cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract. When it's forming nice peaks, remove it and fold into the mascarpone until just combined. If you are putting this together later, just pop this in a plastic container in the fridge.
Now, slice your plums, pop them in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Toss until they are coated and then drizzle enough vinegar over the top to coat them nicely. I happened to have some blood plum vinegar in the cupboard which married nicely with the plums I had, but a good balsamic vinegar will do the trick and will work wonders with the most bland of store-bought strawberries. Leave to marinate in the fridge for up to an hour.
Finally, you need to put it all together. Remove the tart bases carefully from the cases. Don't worry if they crumble a little - when it's covered with whipped cream and fruit no one will know or care! Once the case is on it's plate, fill with cream, top with fruit and drizzle with a little of the sugar syrup if you wish and you are ready to go!