When I have people over for a meal, I always try to channel Martha Stewart and make a dessert. Even if I’m really tired, I think oh come on you can do it, and how much more enjoyable would a meal be with something sweet to savor afterwards? Martha could do it. And while my father points out that it’s not Martha Stewart doing it, but her minions, and that it’s her job to do this, whereas I have other things to do during the day, the thought is still enough to get me up off the couch and back into the kitchen to make a little something sweet.

But when it’s a brunch, you don’t want to have something overpoweringly sweet for dessert. Or at least I don’t. Not always anyway. I wanted something tart and creamy, and that’s when I saw this recipe and fell in love.

It’s creamy without being overpoweringly cloying, like a cheesecake can be, and I thought that would help me avoid the risk that I usually have with cheesecakes where the tops crack. I’m so used to covering up those cracks with a ganache or some sort of garnish that I’d never thought of an alternative. The mascarpone lends this tart a similar texture but the whole thing stays much more moist.

It was just perfect after a big heavy breakfast of biscuit sandwiches.


Lemon Mascarpone Tart

From Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy, via Rachel Eats

Ingredients

For the pastry (This makes enough for two tart crusts so just freeze the other half for later):

15 tablespoons grams butter
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
2 medium-sized eggs
3 1/2 cups plain flour (Italian 00 is perfect but not necessary any plain flour will do)
another egg yolk to glaze tart

For the filling

300g mascarpone cheese
50ml whipping cream
50ml whole milk
zest of two large unwaxed lemons
100ml lemon juice
1 cup caster sugar
120g egg yolks
icing sugar, to finish

You need a 28″ non stick tart tin, loose based is really best. If It’s not loose based you’ll be prying the tart out of the tin, and that’s never any fun.

Preparation

1. Make the pastry: Put the butter in the stand mixer, and with a paddle whip until soft. Add the sugar and keep mixing until the mixture is pale and very creamy. Add the eggs and then mix again until they are incorporated. then add the flour. Continue to mix until the flour is incorporated and you have a neat ball of dough. Divide into 2 balls and put one in the fridge or freezer for another tart.

2. Preheat the oven to 170° C. Roll out one of the balls of the pastry into a large circle on a well floured surface – use the tart tin in as rough template, the circle should be large enough that the pastry will hang over the edges of the tin by about half an inch.

3. Butter and flour the inside of the tin. Carefully lower the pastry into the ring, press it down gently, making sure it fits into the corners. Line the crust with a little aluminum foil and weight it down with dried beans or pie weights.

4. Bake the crust for 5 minutes then take it out of the oven, remove the beans and the paper and put it back in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden. Take the crust out of the oven and while it is still hot brush it with the beaten egg yolk. Put the crust back the oven for another 2 minutes. This forms a layer of protective skin so even if your pie crust isn’t perfect and has cracks, the filling won’t seep through and burn.

5. Allow the tart to cool a little then very gently cut off the overhang with a serrated knife. Set the tart crust aside, lower the oven to 120°C

6. Make the filling: Mix together the mascarpone, cream, milk, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Whisk the egg yolks separately then add to the mascarpone mixture and incorporate quickly.

7. Very carefully pour the mixture into the tart crust and then carefully slide it onto the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes until the center is set but still the a little bit wobbly. Leave to cool by which time the topping will have firmed up. Dust with icing sugar, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This was how it was all supposed to happen. In fact, I think I got slightly confused with all the grams and not a scale in the house, and so my filling was a little looser than I would have liked. I added too much milk and cream, surely, and then to counter act what I felt was a weaker lemon flavor, I added the juice of another half lemon. All in all, it came out really quite well, but I think ideally I’d be more careful next time about the measurements.

The wobbly center didn’t stop my guests from going back for thirds though!

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