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Desserts

berry-tarts-051
Desserts,

Berry Tarts

What could be sweeter than an individual berry tart, this is a quick and easy version of the French fruit tart. The filling is a heavenly mix of whipped cream, lemon curd and vanilla instead of the heavier traditional filling of creme anglaise. Of course use your favorite berries – mine are raspberries which I feel complement the lemon nicely. Although the pastry is very easy to make, if you just don’t have the time or have a bit of a mental block about pastry (as I do about yeast) you could always use a store bought roll out variety – nobody needs to be the wiser. On the other hand if you didn’t want to use store bought lemon curd you could make your own, which although time consuming, is wonderfully delicious. Here is a fabulous lemon curd recipe from the BBC and also here from Carmen Rose’s Mi Cocina.

For the pastry:

2 sticks of unsalted butter (diced and cold)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon zest of lemon
1/2 cup iced water with a dash of vanilla extract.

For the filling:

1 small store bought jar of lemon curd (or homemade)
8 oz heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 pints fresh raspberries

1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined.

2. Add the diced butter a couple of cubes at a time and pulse until the mixture looks like course breadcrumbs.

3.  Pour the iced vanilla water slowly into the flour mixture and process until it clumps together. You may not need all the water, go slowly.

4. Take the dough out of the processor and place onto a couple of sheets of plastic wrap, bring the dough together gently and shape into a disc. Wrap in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

5. Heat the oven to 350 F.

6. While the pastry is chilling flour and butter your tart pans, you could use one large one or multiple small ones.

7. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface. Cut out discs and line the tart pans. Pick well with a fork making sure you don’t pierce right the way through the tarts.

8. Place some greased aluminum foil on top of the pastry and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and aluminum foil and return to the oven for a further 5 – 10 minutes or until just turning a light golden color. (If you are using one large tart pan adjust the baking times accordingly).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

9. Whip the heavy cream together with 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. Gently fold in three quarters of the lemon curd.

10.  Spread the remainder of the lemon curd on the bottom of the tart shells. Fill with the lemony cream mixture. Arrange the raspberries on top and dust with the rest of the confectioner’s sugar.

Eaton Mess
Desserts,

Eaton Mess, the quick and easy version

Eaton Mess is a uniquely British dessert. It’s said to have first been served after a cricket match at Eaton College in the 1930′s. The original “mess” was served with only strawberries, meringue and cream but I think it’s fun to add your favorite combination of berries. In fact you don’t have to stop with berries, try bananas, pineapple or stewed rhubarb. This is the quick and easy version as there is no meringue making required. In this recipe I’ve used store bought meringue cookies but again you could use your favorite cookies – amaretti would be lovely or even a lemon shortbread. If you’re not into dairy try making cashew cream instead, a delicious and more healthy alternative to heavy cream. This is such a scrumptious and despite its name, elegant dessert, so perfect for summer and I’ve never met a person who didn’t love it.

eaton mess

Eaton Mess, the quick and easy version.

1 packet of your favorite cookies, broken into crumbles

1 pint strawberries, raspberries and blueberries or your favorite berries

Zest and juice of half a lemon 8 oz heavy cream or cashew cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method.

  1. Wash the berries, cut the strawberries into halves or quarters depending on their size.
  1. Add the lemon zest and juice to the berries. Stir to combine and set aside.
  1. Place the cream and vanilla in a bowl and whip to soft peaks.
  1. In individual serving bowls or glasses, layer some cream, the berry mixture and top with some crumbled cookies. Repeat until the bowl or glass is full ending with some cream and top with a sprig of fresh mint.

eaton mess