Hello lovelies! We’re talking Italy today!
DJ and I are traveling to the Amalfi Coast in September and one of the things I’m anticipating experiencing is the abundance of lemons in Positano – I’ve read that the fresh scent of the lemon trees perfumes the air and I can’t wait to try some of the locally made Limoncello!
Since we’re traveling there soon, we’ve been a bit consumed with Italian food and culture – I even made pasta from scratch last week, and my new favorite sauce is a simple 3 ingredient recipe made famous by the late Marcella Hazan, the legendary food writer and cookbook author. Marcella did for Italian food in North America what Julia Child did for the French. Her cookbook “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” is an incredible resource and teaching tool – it’s so well-written you feel as though Marcella is cooking right alongside of you, and I highly recommend it.
In addition to lemons, I’m also obsessed with the Italian cheese Mascarpone – a thick and creamy spreadable cheese made just from whole cream and citric acid. It pairs fantastically with lemon curd and fresh fruit. My Italian Lemon Mascarpone Berry Tart is an idyllic dessert for a hot day – smooth and creamy, bright and tangy, crisp and buttery…My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Lemon curd is very simple to make – whisk together a few ingredients and let it cook over a pot of simmering water until thickened, then strain it and pop it in the fridge.
Your lemon curd needs time to chill so make it ahead – up to 3 days in advance. You will have extra – try it in a lemon meringue tart, as a filling for macarons, or sandwiched between two shortbread cookies! Tastes great on a spoon, too. This is the recipe for lemon curd I used for my popular Lemon Curd Bomboloni – another Italian treat! – if you’re making doughnuts any time soon, squeeze some of this lemon curd inside – you can thank me later.
As far as graham crusts go, they’re pretty straight forward – but I have to say this one is so good you could eat it like a cookie. A touch of brown sugar lends a chewy bite that makes this crust completely irresistible. I might make two next time so I have one to snack on while I finish making the tart <——–Not kidding.
This Italian Lemon Mascarpone Berry Tart is a perfect finish to your Italian dinner party menu – light and fresh and just indulgent enough. Buon Appetito!
A deliciously light dessert inspired by the flavours of Southern Italy.
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- Zest of 2 Lemons
- 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice (95mL)
- 3 Eggs
- 12 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (1 1/2 Sticks)
- 1 1/2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
- 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
- 4 Oz Cream Cheese (1/2 of a brick)
- 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Whipping Cream
- 3/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
- 1/2 Cup - 3/4 Cup Lemon Curd
- Any berries you like - strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and goldenberries are all great choices. Sprigs of mint add a pop of colour and smell fresh and lively.
- Combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and eggs in a medium bowl, whisking vigorously until slightly lightened in color, about a minute. Add the butter pieces.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened and reached a temperature of 170 degrees.
- Remove from the heat and pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Cover immediately with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Note the curd can be made up to 3 days in advance.
- You'll need a 14"x 4 3/4" tart pan with a removable bottom. Preheat oven to 350.
- Add the graham crackers, brown sugar and salt to a medium bowl, stir with a fork to combine. Add the melted butter and stir until mixture resembles wet sand. Press firmly into bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, making sure you have an even thickness all around - the corners are the trickiest - make sure they aren't too thick.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, until it smells nutty and is golden brown. Set on a cooling rack to cool while you proceed.
- Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the whipping cream and beat until whipped. Add the mascarpone and lemon curd and beat lightly until combined. Taste and add more curd to your liking.
- Remove the cooled crust from its pan. Spread with the mascarpone filling and smooth the top with a small offset spatula. Top with sliced berries and serve.
You can use store bought lemon curd in place of the made-from-scratch