Strawberry (or Raspberry) Mascarpone Tart with Pecan Shortbread Crust, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on May 11, 2010

Greetings, all!  I hope all of you had a terrific Mother’s Day weekend.  Since the past several weeks have been so busy with traveling and conferences and such, I decided to take the entire weekend off from the computer.  I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately with all of the things I’m doing and I needed a bit of a break.  The weather cooperated and it was sunny and warm for the whole weekend.  What a treat after the cold and rainy weather we’ve been having.

dAhub and Girlfriend were very good to me for Mother’s Day!  They let me sleep in, brought me breakfast in bed, gave me flowers, and did some yard work.  Girlfriend even made lemonade for me.  She said she just got the inspiration to do it, so she got out a bunch of lemons from the fridge, juiced them, mixed them with some sugar and poured the whole thing into a pitcher with some ice water.  It was the most refreshing drink one could ask for on a Mother’s Day: daughter-made lemonade!

Other than relax and read and sleep and drink lemonade, I puttered in the kitchen.  Another mom friend came over on Saturday afternoon for an unofficial meeting of our unofficial Gin and Tarts Society (um yeah, I make up all sorts of reasons to hang out with people).  I made gin cocktails to drink.  And I made one of my very favorite tarts for us to enjoy with our cocktails in the garden.  This one has a pecan shortbread crust, a semi-sweet chocolate layer, a sweetened mascarpone cheese layer, and sliced strawberries on the top.  Mascarpone, if you don’t know it, is an Italian cream cheese–it’s distinguished by being a bit smoother and creamier than our American cream cheese.  As you can imagine, this tart is delicious!

This tart is quite flexible for all-summer enjoying.  When strawberry season is done and raspberries take over, you can serve it with raspberries on top.  And you can also put any other fruit on top.  Peaches come to mind as a splendid option.  I’m telling you, this is one of the most delicious desserts you will ever eat.  I don’t make it very often (although I should), but when I do it doesn’t last more than a day in my house–and we are only 3 people (plus guests, if we decide to share)!

The inspiration for this recipe came from one I found in Sunset magazine.  The original recipe called for almonds and almond extract (instead of pecans and vanilla extract) in the crust, and raspberries on the top.  Either way it is scrumptious!

Strawberry (or Raspberry) Tart with Pecan Shortbread Crust, Gluten-Free

Special Equipment Needed
-a food processor is very nice for mixing together the crust ingredients
-hand mixer is nice, but not necessary
-tart pan with a removable bottom (mine is 8″ across, but you can use one up to about 10″ across)

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C (6 oz; 170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (7.25 oz; 206 g) white rice flour
1 C (4.25 oz; 121 g) tapioca flour
1 C (5.75 oz; 163 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the tart crust)

Ingredients

For the Crust
1 C (99 g) pecan halves
1/2 C (94 g) granulated sugar
1 C (142 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick; 113 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 large or extra large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Layer
1/2 C (85 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 TBL heavy whipping cream

For the Mascarpone Layer
1/2 C (118 ml) heavy whipping cream
8 oz (227 g)  mascarpone cheese
3/4 C (85 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Top
2 C (1 pint) sliced fresh strawberries (or whole raspberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine pecans and granulated sugar.  Pulse until the pecans are chopped and the pecans and sugar are mixed.  Don’t pulse so much that you turn the mixture into pecan butter!  Add the flour and salt, pulse further to combine.  Add butter pieces, pulse until mixture looks like coarse meal.  Add the egg and the egg yolk and pulse until mixture comes together.

Pat dough into the bottom of a tart pan.  Pat it in flat–don’t make it slope up the sides.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until shortbread crust is a light golden brown.  Take out of oven and cool on wire rack.  When it has cooled, remove the ring.

When crust is cooled completely, make your chocolate layer.  In a small pan over very low heat, melt your chocolate–watch it very carefully so it doesn’t burn!  Once the chocolate is just melted, take off of heat and whisk in the 2 TBL of heavy cream.  Whisk until smooth.

Spread the chocolate mixture on top of the shortbread crust.

When the chocolate mixture has cooled to room temperature, make your mascarpone layer.  With an electric hand mixer if you have one, beat together the mascarpone and sifted powdered sugar until smooth.  Slowly add the 1/2 C heavy cream and then the vanilla extract.  Beat until smooth.  Spread this on top of the chocolate layer.

Place your sliced strawberries (or whole raspberries) on the top of the mascarpone in a decorative fashion.

Enjoy!
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