Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowmageddon or the Snowpocalypse 2011

Chicago is on the verge of a blizzard.

They have predicted that we'll receive up to 2 feet of snow when it's all said and done. And while that's nothing to sneeze at, we are after all, living in Chicago — so brutal winters are to be expected.

I just chalk this one up to be an old school winter...the type I experienced as a kid (and crazily enjoyed). When snow drifts came up to my arm pits, and itchy wool tights and thermals were the required base layer. It was all good though, because there was sledding, snowball fights, and playing king of the snow mountain.

My adult experiences with winter aren't so pleasant, since they equate to traffic hell, snow shoveling, and freezing my caboose off at the bus stop. Luckily, my work has given us the option of taking a snow day tomorrow, so I'll be spending mine in tartlet heaven.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Port Glaze
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2009

Recipe makes (1) 10 inch tart, or approximately (24) 3 inch tartlets. If you opt for using the tartlet molds, pie weights are not necessary.

For tart shell:
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

For filling:
  • 1-1/2 pounds strawberries (about 1 1/2 quarts), trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup ruby Port
  • 1 pound mascarpone (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make tart shell:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together.

Gently knead with floured hands on a lightly floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead 4 or 5 times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes more. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.

Make filling while tart shell cools:
Stir together strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff.

Assemble tart:
Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.

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