There seems to be an abundance of fruit at the farmer's markets and grocery stores or maybe it just seems that way. It is summer after all. So the arrival of nectarines and peaches were a welcome sight this week as I have been overdosing on watermelon, blueberries and strawberries (no I am not on one of those fruit/juice 'cleanses', I don't think I have the stamina to survive one). Simultaneous to the arrival of these stone fruits was the (re)discovery of a tart recipe in one of my old Bon Appetit magazines. I took one look at the photo of the tart and said (probably outloud) 'I have to make this'. Less than 48 hours after finding the recipe, I had shopped for all of the ingredients and made the tart. It wasn't as if there was a shortage of 'sweet' things in the house (there were still some Chocolate Chunk (Peanut Butter Cup) Cookies left as well as some edges of brownies I had made), I just felt a sense of tart making urgency.
What if I told you didn't have to choose between making cookies, a rich, creamy (no bake) cheesecake, or fresh fruit for dessert? And without slaving in the kitchen for hours you could serve all of them freeing up more discretionary time for you to do whatever else makes you happy. Well, a Stone Fruit and Mascarpone Tart with Triple Ginger Cookie Crust does all of that and more, so much more. Not only is this tart a feast for the eyes, it is a 'party on your palate'. The tastes and textures of the crunchy ginger crust, the rich, creamy cheesecake filling, and the sweet fruit topping will have your head spinning.
Initially, I was going to make this tart with nectarines only, however, when I came upon the beautiful white peaches at the grocery store my plan changed. The thought of using both the nectarines and white peaches was a rare moment of creative genius. But actually this is a tart having many fruit possibilities. It can be made with all nectarines; all peaches; nectarines and peaches; only blueberries; only blackberries; or blueberries and blackberries; or nectarines and blueberries. And those are just a few of the options! Choose your favorite stone fruits and/or berries. Choose what makes you happy. And if you are looking to make something with a patriotic look for the upcoming 4th of July, this tart topped with raspberries and blueberries would be added cause for celebration.
The crust. Oh, the crust. If you are a fan of ginger cookies or ginger snaps, you will absolutely love this crust. And if you aren't, this tart might convert you. After one bite it shifted a friend's preconceived notion that a ginger cookie crust was something she wouldn't like.
This is one of those 'how easy is that?' crusts. Store bought ginger (or gingersnap) cookies (the triple ginger cookies from Trader Joe's are my favorites) and melted butter are the only ingredients. Note: Trader Joe's also makes a thin ginger cookie that I think would also make for a great crust. Anna's Swedish ginger thins would be another great option.
Don't even bother taking out the food processor to turn the cookies into fine crumbs. A ziplock baggie and a rolling pin works rather well and has added therapeutic value (smashing the rolling pin on the cookies is a great stress reliever). The 14 ounce container of Triple Ginger Cookies yielded slightly more than the desired 3 generous cups of crumbs needed for making a crust a thickness able to stand up to the rest of the tart. Binding the cookie crumbs together I used 6 Tablespoons of melted butter, however, next time I might consider increasing the amount of butter to 7 Tablespoons. The additional tablespoon of butter should be enough to prevent the crust from any crumbling when it is removed from the tart pan.
To form the crust, press the cookie/butter mixture firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 10 inch tart pan. A 9 inch tart pan (as recommended in the Bon Appetit recipe) would throw off the balance of crust to the filling and fruit. In a preheated 350 degree oven, the crust is baked for 8 minutes, just long enough for the crust to slightly darken and set. Note: Allow the crust to cool completely before spreading on the filling.
This is a no-bake filling. Room temperature mascarpone cheese and cream cheese create a smooth, creamy mixture when beaten with a mixer. Combined with the zest of one lemon, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 Tablespoon minced crystallized ginger and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar create an incredibly delicious filling. Once it is all mixed together, you will find it hard to resist the temptation to eat this filling with a spoon before even spreading on the crust. Note: I added an additional 2 teaspoons of sugar, however, I would recommend you taste it with only 1/4 cup of the sugar and decide whether you too feel it needs just a bit more or not.
The rich creamy cheesecake filling is spread evenly over the cooled crust and then allowed to chill (covered) in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (or up to overnight).
In the process of cutting the fruit for this tart, I completely destroyed one nectarine and one peach. Casualties happen when you are clueless. Learning how to cut stone fruit (the seam is there for a reason) by watching the Mario Batali video before, and not after I made this tart, would have been wise. I can still hear Aimee Mann's singing "Wise Up". Only I didn't give up and managed to figure out how to slice the nectarines and peaches in a most unconventional way.
In addition to making a bit of mess of a couple pieces of fruit, I also didn't pay attention to the steps in the recipe and cut the fruit before the filling set after chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It all worked out in the end, but going forward I will wait to cut the fruit shortly before serving (the finished tart can be refrigerated up to 6 hours in the refrigerator before serving).
After placing the sliced fruit in overlapping concentric circles, finish the tart by brushing the fruit with a peach jam that has been warmed. Unable to find peach jam, I used peach preserves instead. And there was a silver lining to this relatively minor substitution. The bits of peach in the preserve were an unexpected, nice rustic touch to the finished look of the tart.
Other than being challenged in cutting stone fruit, this is one of the easiest and biggest wow factor tarts you will make all summer. If (or when) you decide to serve this Stone Fruit and Mascarpone Tart with Triple Ginger Cookie Crust you most likely will not any have leftovers as this is what I call one of those 'seconds requested' dessert.
Stone Fruit and Mascarpone Tart with Triple Ginger Cookie Crust (adapted from Bon Appetit's Nectarine and Mascarpone Tart with Gingersnap Crust)
14 ounces ginger cookies, crushed (recommend Trader Joe's triple ginger cookies) or a generous 3 cup equivalent of crushed gingersnap cookies
6- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling and Fruit Topping
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced
Zest of one lemon (or 1 teaspoon of lemon zest)
3-4 medium sized stone fruits (i.e., white peaches and nectarines), halved, pitted and thinly sliced
1/4 cup peach jam or peach preserves, warmed
Note: Use any combination of stone fruits or berries to top the tart.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix crushed triple ginger cookies and melted butter in medium sized bowl. Transfer to a 10 inch removable bottom tart pan and press mixture firmly and up sides of pan.
3. Bake crust for 8 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Place mascarpone, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, minced crystallized ginger and lemon zest in medium bowl. Beat until smooth.
5. Spread filling on cooled crust. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
6. Arrange fruit slices on top of filling in overlapping concentric circles (begin on outer edge of tart).
7. Brust with heated jam. Serve immediately.
Note: If not serving immediately, refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 6 hours)
Two weeks ago I made a basket of the Decadent Chocolate Brownies for a friend's 60th birthday. Last week I made another basket of them for the 80th birthday of someone I admired professionally immediately upon meeting them almost 13 years ago. The first basket got rave reviews, the second basket, well, it was not as well received. Not because it wasn't viewed as a thoughtful gesture, but because at least a few were overwhelmed by the brownies intense chocolate flavor (they live up to their decadence and are not for the faint of chocolate heart). As a little disappointed as I was that the second basket of brownies didn't get all of oohs and ahhs I was certain they would (validation is my vice), it was one of those grounding, reality check moments we all benefit from having every now and then. For me this was the reminder to cook, bake, and create for others because you want to, because you love to, because it brings you joy, or because it is how you express to others how much they mean to you. If along the way there are some who really, really, really like what you made for them, let those be moments you savor.
However, if every now and then you find yourself in need of one of those moments, well just cook, bake, and create for those who really, really, really like what you make. There are worse vices than needing a little validation.