And yet, surprisingly, this was one of the easiest, quickest, and most impressive desserts I've made in recent memory. It's firmly on the summer menu now, as often as I can squeeze it in. This tart has several components, but each of them are foolproof, delicious, and easy. I saw the recipe in Joanna's nationwide newspaper roundup then promptly made it for a dinner party last weekend. I was so happy with how it turned out. It has a firm, crunchy shortbread crust made with toasted oats and brown sugar, which makes it much more interesting (in my opinion) than traditional shortbread. And the batch is relatively small, so you can make it in even a three-cup food processor, like my little chopper. So quick and easy! The dough comes together in five minutes.
Then the filling is also quick: just whipped cream, a little sugar, softened mascarpone, and chocolate shavings. Top with a pint of strawberries, sliced and macerated in just a touch of balsamic vinegar, and you're done.The only real change I made was an addition of ganache. The tart, rich as it is, needed to feed 8 people, and I wanted to bulk it up just slightly. Also, I wanted to prepare it ahead of time, but I was concerned that the cream would make the crust too soft if I left the assembled tart sitting in the fridge for a few hours. A dark chocolate ganache protects the crust and adds yet another layer of richness as well as an additional texture between the crunchy shortbread and creamy filling.
I melted equal amounts of cream and dark chocolate (about half a cup of each) and whisked until smooth, then poured it into the crust and let it cool. Then I spread the filling inside, and topped with strawberries and chocolate curls just before serving.
So delicious - crunchy, toasty, creamy, chocolatey, and with a mountain of fresh red ripe berries on top. (I found sweet local strawberries, which just put this over the top.) This is totally a recipe worth trying, and it elevates fresh strawberries to new heights. Plus, it looks spectacular without really trying, which doesn't hurt.
• Get the recipe: The New Strawberries and Cream at The Oregonian
Originally published June 9, 2009.
(Images: Faith Durand)