Monday, June 4, 2012

STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM TART

PHOTOGENIC


My father had an old Brownie camera, a black plastic box, not too big, not too heavy, that created memories. His Hawkeye Brownie in shiny Bakelite sported a cute little carrying handle and an attachment allowing us to screw in tiny little bulbs that flashed with a satisfying pop like in an old film noir. A drawerful of square black & white photos is proof positive of his passion for capturing images, albeit sometimes blurry, stills of giggling children, smiles frozen in time, caught in the joyous movement of childhood or formally posed like good little soldiers. The flimsy, frilly-edged snapshots with the date stamped indelibly in the white edging framing the smiling – or otherwise – faces of the four of us and mom fading gently into ghosts of time past now lay strewn across my own desktop connecting me to something long gone.




I have hazy memories of carrying dad’s Brownie to Girl Scout camp, careful not to break it, allowed to snap pictures of my friends, creating my very own memories. But I do clearly remember my first camera, my very own, a Pocket Instamatic. You remember the Instamatic, the slim rectangle now sporting a long, slim loop that I could slip onto my wrist, the cubes snapped one by one onto the camera itself that flashed and clicked as it turned one-two-three times. Rolls and rolls of film, piles of snapshots flipped through over and over again: camp and school parades, holidays and family vacations and one exciting trip to Israel now fill envelopes and albums in glorious Technicolor dimming to yellow.



A Polaroid stuck away in a drawer now gathering dust was a long-ago gift, possibly high school graduation. As simple and quick to use as my old Instamatic, the Polaroid gave immediate gratification. Snap – thunk – kkksssshhhhh and out popped a fuzzy gray square of silence. Patience and anticipation and an image like magic burnished onto paper slowly revealed itself like an exotic striptease, baring its soul.

From one camera to the next, I grew up learning to aim and shoot, a quick squint and click and the moment was captured forever. For a very brief few months or so, somewhere after college, I figured out the whole ISO, f-stop, speed thing and began interacting personally with the camera I had inherited from my father, one he bought himself after retiring with the idea that he would start taking pictures again. But that camera ended up in the more experienced hands of my husband and he took over being the memory catcher of the family.


Hundreds of years later, jump to today and here I am struggling to keep up with the world of food blogging, a world of brilliantly honed images. Technology has never been my friend: I am a simple girl who kneads dough by hand, mixes with a wooden spoon, prefers pen and paper and who still uses her smart phone to make calls and little more. In front of a camera with buttons and dials, with a tiny screen demanding attention and one decision after another, I feel faint and a hot flush rises through my body and washes across my face. And so I find it easier just to ignore it all, just pretend it doesn’t exist and return to my private bubble. I take comfort in the written word, a form of expression that fits me so well, one that I can control, one I understand. Why do I need a camera when I can create an image in my reader’s mind with mere words? Words are my paintbrush, my camera and my marble. I write therefore I am!

So as you can see I have gone through two – or is it three – cameras and have yet to learn or master the thing. Son chides, husband rails and the other son tries to explain but to no avail. Something is closed, shut tight against understanding. I have this terrible nightmare that if I begin pushing buttons and attempt to adjust light and speed then the camera will implode or spontaneously combust. And so I shake my head, cross my fingers, point and shoot and hope for the best.

But how long can this go on? And how many Plate to Page workshops must I sit through listening to Ilva, Meeta and Jeanne, stand off in the distant and watch ever so discreetly as our students learn to leave auto and master manual before I succumb? Before I heave a heavy sigh of resignation and agree to finally try it myself?

And so a friend of my son’s is selling his camera and offered to lend it to me for a few days to try it out. And he spent a couple of hours walking me through it ever so patiently, explaining, showing and explaining again.


And so I made this Strawberry Tart with Whipped Mascarpone Cream and a secret mint chocolate surprise so I could photograph it using the camera. Well, actually I had long been dreaming of creating this beautiful tart and only waited for local strawberries to arrive at the market plump, red and sugary sweet. Which happened just as the camera chanced to show up. And it all came together perfectly.

Ain’t she just so photogenic?

And all on manual, just like a big girl!


And this is one simple and sensational tart, redolent of summer and kissed with both the sweetness of fresh strawberries and the indulgence of chocolate. A blissful dessert of ethereal, luxurious whipped mascarpone cream atop a thin layer of chocolate – in using Lindt Mint Chocolate I added a delicate hint of mint – all topped with luscious, seasonal berries. Pretty, light and sweet, a truly exquisite treat for these halcyon days of summer.


STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM TART
For one 9-inch (24 cm) Tart 


1 pre-baked Sweet Pastry Crust of your choice *

3.5 oz (100 g) semisweet chocolate (I use Lindt Menthe Intense Chocolate Noir 70%)
About 3 or 4 cups strawberries (about 1 ½ - 2 lbs), fresh, seasonal & local when possible

½ cup (125 ml) heavy whipping cream, chilled
½ cup (125 g) mascarpone cheese, chilled
1 Tbs powdered/confectioner’s sugar
Vanilla extract

Powdered/confectioner’s sugar for dusting

* Use either pâte brisée (short crust), pâte sablée (cookie crust) or pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) rolled out to line a 9-inch (24-cm) pie plate, trimmed and pre-baked. I used my favorite Sweet Pastry Crust (recipe found here) and although delicious, I do think that using a pâte sablée or a crust a bit more crumbly would have been better suited.

Prepare Pastry Crust by rolling out and lining a lightly buttered pie plate. Trim. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove the piecrust from the refrigerator, prick lightly all over with a fork and place a large piece of parchment paper in the crust and weigh it down with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the pie plate from the oven to a cooling rack. Carefully lift off the parchment and the weights/beans and discard (saving the beans or weights for later use). Press down the crust if puffed up and return to the oven to bake for an additional 8 – 12 minutes or until golden and baked (if using a glass pie plate, carefully lift the plate to check the bottom of the crust; it should be evenly golden.

Remove the piecrust from the oven and place on a cooling rack (turn off the oven as you will no longer need it). Melt the chocolate gently either in a microwave oven or over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth. Poor the warm/hot melted chocolate into the still-warm piecrust and, using the back of a soupspoon, spread evenly over the bottom. Allow to cool to room temperature; once cooled, place in the refrigerator to chill so the chocolate solidifies.

Prepare the strawberries as you like: you can trim and remove the caps and slice evenly or you can simply trim the caps and leave whole as I did.

Prepare the filling by whipping the heavy whipping cream until peaks hold, beating in the tablespoon of powdered sugar and a small drizzle (maybe about 1/8 teaspoon) of vanilla as you whip. Add the mascarpone and beat together just until light and fluffy. NOTE: the quantities given above are for a thin layer of cream filling, just the right amount so as not to completely take over the pie, allowing the flavor of both the chocolate and the strawberries to shine through: really the perfect balance for me. But feel free to increase the amount of one, the other or both as well as increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar to your taste.

Once the tart shell and chocolate are just chilled and the chocolate set, simply spread the mascarpone whipped cream over the chocolate to fill the shell and top with the strawberries.


Dust with the powdered sugar just before serving.

55 comments:

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

Luscious and scrumptious (in honor of the Queen). Our strawberry season is already over; however, it makes me want to purchase strawberries from afar just to make this.

I too have a reluctant relationship with technology. I often believe my items have a sense of humor that I have yet to understand. Congratulations for going manual! I'm very impressed.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! That tart is super photogenic and your pictures are great. I wish I'd have more money to buy a more performant camera...

Cheers,

Rosa

A Thought For Food said...

What a lovely story... I didn't grow up with cameras around, but I did have lots of family photo albums that we looked through over and over again and children. That had a huge impact on me and showed me what can be captured in a single still image.

Can't wait to see what you do with the new camera! :-)

thekitchenaroundthecorner said...

it looks so delicious

shruti | a spoonful of yumm said...

your post sent me back in time. the images are so gorgeous :) i remember the days i used to shoot eagerly with film camera. gone are the days of giving rolls for developing. managing with a point & shoot, yet to jump on to the dslr bandwagon. the camera is my loyal companion ;-)

Junglefrog said...

I can still remember my dad with his camera. He was forever taking photos and I very quickly followed in his foodsteps. I think I must have been 8 when I got my first (small) camera... Haen't times changed...:) I said it on facebook already and I'll say it again; this tart as well as the photos are absolutely stunning! I already send the pics through to Tom last night telling him that his is what he and his friends will be making for us! Can't wait to taste it! (but dinner is only on the 23rd so still a while to wait!)

Jamie said...

@Junglefrog: I want to see a photo of Tom's pie!! xo

Jenn said...

A beautiful tart! I am very adept at some technologies, but horribly luddite at others (I'm convinced I will never figure out the TV/sound system my husband has set up, ever). I've always believed that photos have less to do with the gear and settings and more about the framing and light anyways. Loads of gorgeous iphone photos out there are proof of that :)

Enjoy the camera, and hope you have fun experimenting and learning how to use it!

Robin | what-about-the-food said...

I love, love this post! Echos in my own childhood with my Instamatic and borrowing Dad's Yashica.

Congratulations on a glorious portrait of your strawberry tart, lovely light and composition. As my dad would say, "kid, you've got a good eye."

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I consider myself a creative person; first and foremost so maybe for me the need to learn technology, the effort and determination it takes is exactly what drives me; the figuring it out can be a creative effort in itself.

My ex-husband was an engineer, yet I'm the one who figured out how to use our first VCR and the attached camera; sometimes I think my drive to learn technology was first motivated by a need to prove that I am just as smart as he thought he was! Keep it up...it gets easier and when it does, then it gets creative. Promise.

This tart is so very much like what I call my favorite ever. Mine started with a simple strawberry pie and morphed into one requiring a layer of mascarpone between the berries and the crust; presumably to help keep the crust from getting soggy but after one taste...well, that's no longer the reason. The chocolate? PERFECT and one I will now, without apology, copy. :)

Jamie said...

@Barbara/Creative Culinary: First, thanks for reminding me because I forgot completely to say that adding that thin coat of chocolate (NOT ganache) helps keep the crust from getting soggy from the whipped filling. Second, thanks, I will take your word that it gets easier and will help me become more creative! xo

wendy@chezchloe said...

Funny this is the second time in 2 days I've heard about the brownie camera. My dad just sent me a link to images of all these oldies and his memories of his own sometime in the late 30's/40's.

Those old photos are so classic. I love them as much as your beautiful tart. Well done on the manual mode. We've passed in our training bra's. (ok mine would probably still fit but I've come to accept it:-)

wendy@chezchloe said...

Funny this is the second time in 2 days I've heard about the brownie camera. My dad just sent me a link to images of all these oldies and his memories of his own sometime in the late 30's/40's.

Those old photos are so classic. I love them as much as your beautiful tart. Well done on the manual mode. We've passed in our training bra's. (ok mine would probably still fit but I've come to accept it:-)

Amanda said...

I've only recently made the jump from "Auto" to "Manual" on my DSLR, but am yet to really feel very confident at all with it - despite taking a couple of evening classes to walk me through the unfamiliar numbers on the camera. I guess it all comes down to practise, practise, practise.
In the meantime, like you, I prefer the comfort of my familiarity with words.
If the gorgeous pictures of this tart are anything to go by, you are well on your way down the "Manual" path.

Jamie said...

@Wendy Chez Chloe: Ha ha ha I like that image!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Luscious photos, Jamie! My dad was a photographer, entirely self-taught but with very good instincts and a grasp of the technical. I didn't inherit that knack, but I think I got a little bit of his sense of color and shapes. Still haven't mastered manual yet, though.

Cookin' Canuck said...

Look at you! You captured every bit of beauty in this tart perfectly. I grew up with a Brownie camera, screwing those flashbulbs into place, and getting a thrilled from hearing the little bulb explode when I pressed the shutter. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

domenicacooks said...

One downside to the digital age is the loss of family photo albums--at least in my case. Once I stopped getting film developed I stopped making hard copies of images. Now, of course, I'm way behind. As usual.

Your tart looks beautiful. I always add a dollop or two of mascarpone to whipped cream, as it does a great job of stabilizing it. And it's delicious.

claire @ the realistic nutritionist said...

This tart is absolutely stunning. Love love love it!

Cake Duchess said...

So far, looking great with the new camera.;)Any thing you bake looks delicious no matter what camera you use, by the way. Sweet to read about your dad and seeing your old photos (sassy you looking so pretty;). Delicious tart!Save me a slice:)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's an absolutely beautiful shot Jamie. The kind that you let out a sigh for when you first see-as I did when I saw it on your facebook update! :D

Russell at Chasing Delicious said...

I adore the presentation of this tart! Gorgeous. Lovely post.

MyFudo™ said...

Pictures from the past give back a warm reminiscent feeling of our happy memories...
I love the fresh strawberries on top of the treat. Refreshing! Thanks for sharing!

Carolyn Jung said...

Isn't it great to find old photos like that? Somehow, just the fact that they've survived all this time makes them even more precious.
Lovely tart. Definitely a picture worth a thousand smiles. ;)

Sanjeeta kk said...

Life' a feast makes a complete circle now, Jamie..perfect write up and photogenic pictures to boast! Congrats and hugs.
And your statement 'Technology has never been my friend: I am a simple girl who kneads dough by hand, mixes with a wooden spoon...' I think holds true for many of forty plus mommys..including me :)

Rambling Tart said...

Good for you, Jamie!! I don't have a fancy-schmancy camera, just a little point and shoot, so I don't think you're terrible at all. :-) I think it's quite a feat to be able to take beautiful shots with a cheapo camera, something you can be PROUD of! :-) But these new ones are gorgeous too. :-)

Liren said...

Jamie! This is positively gorgeous! I really enjoyed hearing your photographic journey. I fondly remember going through my dad's slides and even more fondly, my first Instamatic. I think I brought that thing everywhere I could. Your photography skills with this tart are wonderful - all on manual! You have inspired me to work on that more :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Absolutely awesome Jamie!! So proud of you. You listen and take notes in silence and then apply what you learn in your own time and pace. I love that about you. Lovely tart and lovely images. My dad gave me my first camera at 14 and since then I have been taking photos of the world around me. Wishing you all the best with the new camera!

Alida said...

Wow I am totally impressed! This tart is just amazing and you are a very good photographer.

meatballsandmilkshakes.com said...

Beautiful strawberry tart! I love fruit tarts in general and can't resist a post on them!

Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra said...

oh my, the tart looks wonderful.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Food and photos...
Did we ever take pictures of our food growing up?
I don't remember any.
I only discovered Auto a year ago and it changed my life-so much faster easier less thinking in my shooting now.
I tried an SLR and returned it.
I want to shoot and not think.
But these tart shots are irresistable.
Go figure

Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} said...

These are gorgeous! Big girl manual mode- impressive! !!

Nicole said...

Beautiful photos! What a perfect summer tart. I love that photo of your two boys as little ones. I can't believe that soon Roman will have a little brother to love!

Lisa said...

I love the old photos of you growing up..taken with, what's considered now to be ancient, cameras! I remember the Polaroid..it's too bad that the photos didn't last long quality wise. Glad to hear you've learned Manual - now can you teach me? lol I just use AV and play arounf with that. Your photos look great, but most importantly, the strawberry tart IN the photos looks stunning and so luxurious!

Priscilla - ShesCookin said...

Fantastic job of capturing your beautiful tart in manual mode :) I feel your pain - not so much about the camera (I can relate to that too), but anxiety about your upcoming move. Unfortunately, the kitchen you saw in my photo is the one I left :( I'm having a hard time adjusting to the smaller kitchen at our new house.

Jamie said...

@Parisbreakfasts: I think I would have stayed with my small camera on auto forever if I didn't have such shaky, uneven results. We have bd light in this apartment so I never get the same results twice on auto so if I want consistently good pics I have to learn manual.

WiseMóna said...

Oh Jamie,
You and my husband are really of the same cloth. He uses his phone only to listen to his Neil Young albums...

I am the same. I have not even figured out the f-stops and ISO and really hope when Simone comes to visit me in July she will teach me a few lessons. I want to be 'manual' but auto is my safe place for now!

Jamie, all that aside, you have your very own unique style of photography. I could pick your photos out of a line up any day of the week because yours do not get lost in the stuffle. They are classic and very 'you'. Not to mention a work of art considering you are photographing food art.

Still lingering over Thanksgiving and hope you guys can join us xx

Ivy said...

Wow, your post just brought back so many memories of my own instamatic camera with flash cubes! The tart is so beautiful and I am sure it is delicious as well but we do feast with the eyes first and the pictures with the new camera are so beautiful!! My dream to buy a dslr camera with a macro lens will stay a dream for ever, as with the economic crisis I will have to stick to the point and shoot camera for the rest of my life.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Great photos! Looks like that cameras a keeper. I make a tart similar to this, but I dust on sugar at the end, and hit it with a torch to brulée it:-)

Jamie said...

@Marc @NoRecipes: Oh great idea! Another reason that I finally need to buy that torch! I dusted the top with powdered sugar for the white against red effect.

David @ Frenchie and the Yankee said...

Lovely post and dessert. Bookmarked!
Excited to see what the new camera will bring.
I can definitely relate when it comes to getting familiar with a camera.

shaz said...

Bravo Jamie! Those are amazing photos, so mouthwatering. This tart is definitely going to be made soon )or whenever strawberries are on special!) :)

Angie's Recipes said...

What an amazing looking tart!

Tickled Red said...

Awww...what sweet memories. And that tart, oh my word! You always amaze and soothe me :D

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

Wow you are right, that's a gorgeous tart and so photogenic. You captured beautifully!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Your tart is gorgeous, Jaimie. Those luscious strawberries make my mouth water. I remember our old Brownie camera. I still have boxes of old photos from that era. I even remember the old Polaroid instant photos that have long since faded away. Nice memories.

Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef said...

What a beautiful tart! My very first camera was a brownie and I took it everywhere. I did have an instamatic with the cube too.

We have a nice DSLR camera but I was always using the point and shoot because I'm a lot like you. I took a course recently on how to use the camera.. no composition or lighting.. just how to use the camera on manual.

I'm not great. Now I need composition and lighting training.:)

One this has changed though, I'm not afraid of it any more.

Barbara Bakes said...

A gorgeous tart and gorgeous pictures! I really need some lessons on using my camera too.

Lora said...

Stunning tart and those pictures rock!

Javelin Warrior said...

Jamie, you've outdone yourself on the photos - what an amazing tart and so beautifully photographed! I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday series (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and it's so much fun following your creations…

Terra said...

I have been meaning to comment on this beautiful tart since I read it, here I am finally:-) It is seriously so pretty, I love how you left the stems on the strawberries:-) Gorgeous, Hugs, Terra

Mairi @ Toast said...

Your manual skills are certainly better than mine! I sometimes try & then I revert back to iPhone....it does what I want so easily & quickly! And that tart, well it will be on the must make list as soon as strawberries make an appearance!

RecipeNewZ said...

Beautiful cake, so perfect for the season. In the time I keep staring at it I probably could have baked it :-)

kobi's kitchen said...

This looks so amazing!!!! Thanks for sharing.

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