Sunday, 12 February 2012

Berry and Mascarpone Lemon Pastry Tartlets

I like Valentine's Day... I know it is tacky and naff, but I like a little romance, over planned, over hyped, over commercialised or not... I also just like an excuse to plan a menu, a menu that includes cute little berry tarts. Little tartlets of love! Ha!

I suppose I like certain elements of Valentine's Day... I liked the little chocolate hearts scattered over the table when I had guests at mine for supper last night, they looked really pretty... I like the section in Fenwick's with towers of tiny heart shaped boxes of truffles and bumper boxes of Love-Hearts, what's not to love about a sickly sweet candy with a naff message of love printed on it? I didn't like trying to choose a card for TLI surrounded by men in suits looking uncomfortable, nervous and a bit clammy. I don't like Valentine's cards I've realised, they are all naff, every single one... I watched the uncomfortable men pick up tiny heart shaped plates with 'love' written on them, they looked confused, was this what they were meant to be doing? I left the uncomfortable men to it, it was making me squirm...

These little tarts are very easy once you have made the sweet lemon pastry and that isn’t very difficult either... I found the recipe in one of the Ottolenghi books. This will make 18 little tartlets, the pastry will keep in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. Get a big bowl and add 330g of plain flour, 100g of icing sugar, the zest of half a lemon and quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Add 180g of cold unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes and rub it into the flour, mix it with your hands until it is a bread crumb like consistency. Add an egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cold water and mix until you have a firm dough. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on the counter lightly for a few seconds, then wrap it in cling film and chill it until you need it.

Take your tart tins, or I used a muffin tin, and brush them with a thin layer of melted butter, then put them in the fridge to set. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick, cut out circles using a cutter or a mug and line your tins with pastry. Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to 150°C and add some cling film or grease proof paper and baking beans to the middle of each tartlet. I use dried chickpeas as my baking beans, it stops the pastry from rising up when you bake it, make sure you put the cling film or grease proof paper in or the beans will stick in your pastry. Then put them in the oven to bake for 25 minutes until they are golden brown.

Remove the baking beans and paper and leave the tartlet cases to cool. When they are cool fill them with fresh mascarpone, topped with lots of berries and some chopped mint. Serve the little 'tartlets of love' straight away. The buttery lemony pastry is delicious with creamy mascarpone and sharp sweet berries.

I should have told the confused men in Fenwick's just to make some of these instead of puzzling over strange miniature crockery and bad cards...

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Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x