Crunchy biscuit base, soft folds of mascarpone cream. Could there be a more perfect vehicle for fresh summer berries? I'd been looking for a way to showcase berries - which are so lovely and plentiful here it makes me weep - and this, surely, was the best option.
I used the recipe for Nigella's Black and White Tart from How to be a Domestic Goddess, replacing her blackberry / whitecurrant combo with all my favourite summer berries. (It's also very similar to Joanne Weinberg's deconstructed cheesecake, one of my favourite recipes for entertaining).
In her latest book, Kitchen, Nigella provides an even easier version: her No-Fuss Fruit Tart, the filling for which is simply a mixture of cream cheese and lemon curd. I'm sure that would be delicious too, but I generally prefer Nigella's older recipes to her newer ones, and, more prosaically, mascarpone is far cheaper here than at home, so I went for the original version.
We bought all the berries at the bi-weekly Lampertheim market, except for the redcurrants, which we bought from a local farmer.
|Clockwise from top: Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries|
The filling is a sweetened mascarpone cream, to which you add egg yolks and lemon juice. It is then lightened with stiffly beaten egg whites. I added a packet of vanilla sugar as well, as I adore vanilla. (In Australia I'd substitute vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod).
Not being able to find graham crackers or McVitie's digestive biscuits here, I chose the similar-looking "Biscuit Fibre", which seemed to have a bit of heft to them. (I've previously tried Butterkeks, Marie biscuits and Arrowroot biscuits for cheesecake bases, but those biscuits, with their white-flour smoothness, don't seem to absorb enough butter and give an unsatisfying, slightly soft result.)
With no food processor here, I substituted a cocktail muddler to crush the biscuits. Phew, it was hard work!
As we didn't have a loose-bottomed tart tin, I used a 26cm springform tin, and made a flat base. I think it would probably be a bit of a struggle trying to press the crumbly biscuit base up the sides of a fluted tin!
Then it's simply a matter of piling the cream onto the base, and spreading it out in a rough fashion.
My favourite part was arranging the berries over the base! It felt very extravagant tumbling the berries with such gay abandon, hehe.
And here is the tart, sprung from its springform-ed captivity!
We left the redcurrants on the stem for some photos, and then pulled them off the stem to serve.
I cannot overemphasize how wonderful this tart is! There was a lovely contrast between the tart and juicy berries, the soft and sweet cream, and the crunchy base. It was kinda like a cross between soft-set cheesecake and berries & cream: a dessert of pure awesomeness.
We ate it straight away, although I think a little stint in the fridge would make it easier to slice. Good luck waiting though!