Happy Labor Day! Is it really September 3rd already? Where has the summer gone - or for that matter, the last eight months! A friend of mine asked this same question this morning, because another Saratoga Race Track meet is ending today in our hometown. He was wondering if it was because we were getting older. Is the time really flying because we're getting older - as in our case, soon leaving our fabulous fifties and entering a new age decade next year? Nah - I think time just flies when you're living life to its fullest! Did someone just give away her age? ;)
Early this morning while sipping my hot cup of coffee, and enjoying this beautiful day off from work, my mother called from Saratoga. With excitement in her voice, she told me my hometown newspaper, The Saratogian, had featured "a cup of mascarpone"! My fingers were shaking as I typed the keys on my Mac to enter The Saratogian website and read the online version. I am humbled and speechless by this lovely article about my new blog! Who knew that in six short weeks, so many wonderful things would come from just wanting to share my recipes and photos in a blog? I have truly met so many wonderful people, and learned so much - I feel so blessed! Thank you to all those who are following my blog, leaving all the thoughtful comments, reading through news feeds, or subscribed to email updates - I love and appreciate all of you! …and trust me, I still have so much more to learn about blogging, and photography - but what a fun journey!
I'm sure you want me to quit blabbering now and introduce you to these luscious strawberries-marsala - created three different ways!!! You make the decision - quick and simple, or a relaxing couple hours creating! Whichever way you choose - these bright red, sweet, juicy strawberries are made even more delicious by macerating them in a sprinkle of sugar and marsala wine, and topping them, of course, with mascarpone! :) As promised, my last two posts: tiramisu cupcakes, mushroom marsala bruschetta, and now, strawberries-marsala, all use that same bottle of marsala - and if you're only making one or another of the recipes, the marsala will last a long time, so no fear of wasting it.
I originally made these scrumptious tarts in August to post on a California Strawberry Contest. The contest had to be something original, and be made with California Strawberries. I went all out and created the third version, a crispy almond-graham tart shell lined with a bittersweet, dark chocolate ganache, then filled with the strawberries-marsala and topped with the mascarpone whipped cream. Although I consider myself somewhat computer literate, I'll be darned, I can't figure out how to enter the contest! Seriously. I have until September 10th to enter, so I'll keep trying. :)
In the meantime, I created them again to serve in parfait glasses, rather than the tart shells - a delicious, light evening dessert! I used an ice cream scoop for the mascarpone whipped cream, and made it look like a scoop of ice cream - a fun touch, I thought!
Which way would you like to enjoy this late summer strawberry treat? The simplicity of a parfait glass showcasing the beauty of the strawberries - a tart shell filled with the strawberries and mascarpone - or a tart shell lined with the richness of chocolate ganache, then filled with the strawberries and mascarpone? I can attest, they're all divine!
In closing - Go Hokies! Their season opener against Georgia Tech is on ESPN tonight! :)
Until next time - mangia!!! xox
Strawberries-Marsala Ganache Almond-Graham Tarts with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
4 – 6 servings depending on tart size, or parfait glass size
1-1/2 lbs. California Strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet or dry Marsala (I used dry Marsala)
Hull and core the strawberries. Quarter the strawberries into uniform sizes. Place the strawberries into a bowl, and sprinkle with the sugar and add the Marsala. Gently mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to macerate for at least 30 minutes, or until juices are released, tossing occasionally. The macerated strawberries can be made up to one day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Almond-Graham Tart Crust:
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup slivered almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons butter melted
Combine graham crumbs, toasted slivered almonds, and sugar in a bowl and stir in the melted butter until thoroughly combined. Pack almond-graham mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides of tart pans. Bake in 350F oven for 8 minutes, and cool. I used four - 4-1/2” tart pans. You can also use six - 3-1/2” pans.
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Using a serrated knife, finely chop chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour the cream over the chopped chocolate, and stir slowly with a rubber spatula until all the chocolate is melted, smooth and glossy.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream Topping:
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
With an electric mixer, whisk cream until it forms stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and confectioners sugar until smooth. Gently fold in the cream into the mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated, and use immediately. You can also make this up to one day ahead, cover and refrigerate.
Creating Strawberries Marsala 3 Ways:
1) Strawberries Marsala and Mascarpone Whipped Cream - Make the Strawberries-Marsala and the Mascarpone Whipped Cream. Position the Strawberries Marsala in parfait glasses. Top with Mascarpone Whipped Cream and serve.
2) Strawberries Marsala Almond-Graham Tarts with Mascarpone Whipped Cream - Make the Almond-Graham Cracker Tarts. Add the Strawberries-Marsala into the cooled tart shells. Top with Mascarpone Whipped Cream and serve.
3) Strawberries Marsala Almond-Graham Ganache Tarts with Mascarpone Whipped Cream - Make the Almond-Graham Tarts. Set aside to cool. Make the Chocolate Ganache and let slightly cool. Pour a tablespoon or less (depending on tart shell size you’re using) into the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Take the back of your spoon and spread the chocolate across the bottom and slightly up the side edges of the tart shell. Let it cool and set up. You can set the chocolate lined tart shells in refrigerator to cool, if preferred. Add the Strawberries-Marsala to the ganache-lined tarts. Top with Mascarpone Whipped Cream and serve.
While using a lot of mascarpone and cream over recent months, I've discovered a couple things. Galbani Mascarpone, imported from Italy, is the thickest and richest I've found. That's not to say that all brands aren't delicious, it's just an observation (not an endorsement) depending on the consistency you are looking for. Galbani was used in the glass of strawberries-marsala with the scoop of mascarpone.
Another observation, when using heavy cream to whip, you will obtain a creamier, smoother look to your mascarpone whipped cream, as on my tarts, or as on my rosemary-mascarpone post here. When using heavy "whipping" cream, a more formed look will be attained - as in the mascarpone topping on the glass of strawberries.