I wanted to share this lovely recipe that I have been working on for a while. It is the perfect summer dessert – creamy, lemony and topped with beautiful seasonal fruit. I started creating this recipe last summer, but tucked it away and actually forgot about it. When I went to the market this week for fruit and vegies, I was stunned at all of the gorgeous berries. It seems we are having a bumper crop here in Italy.
The combination of tangy lemon curd and luxuriously creamy mascarpone cheese topped with a cloud of amaretto whipped cream and fresh berries is the perfect summer dessert. It requires minimal oven usage (just to bake off the crust) and chilling it in the fridge makes it a super choice for the hot days of summer.
The beauty of this dessert is that you can make most of the components, including the crust, a day or two ahead. For the crust, I like to use a combination of digestive biscuits and ground almonds. The other trick is using a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. I find that the powdered sugar melts into the crust whereas the granulated sugar can make the crust taste a little grainy.
You can also make the lemon curd a couple days ahead of time and store it in the fridge until needed. The lemon curd recipe I use is one adapted from a recipe I found in Gourmet magazine ages ago (January 2011). It has been my go to recipe whenever I need lemon curd. I use it in my lemon bars, trifles, cake and cupcake fillings, on pound cake; even over ice cream.
The day you want to serve this dessert, fold together the lemon curd and room temperature mascarpone cheese and then simply fill the crust with the mixture; smoothing it out so you have an even layer.
After filling the crust with the lemon curd mixture, you can stick this in the fridge while you make the amaretto whipped cream. If you don’t have amaretto, you can certainly use a little almond extract (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon), or even vanilla or lemon extract or, if you want, leave it out all together. Once the cream has been whipped into semi-stiff peaks, smooth it over the top of the lemon curd mixture and decorate with any fresh fruit that you like.
- 250 grams digestive biscuits, crushed
- 50 grams ground almonds (blanched with out skins is best but regular ones work as well)
- 2 T powdered sugar
- 75 grams melted butter (add more or less as needed)
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 T finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 t lemon extract
- 3 large eggs
- 6 T unsalted butter, chopped into pieces
- 250 grams (1 cup) mascarpone, brought to room temperature
- 350 mL (1 ½ cups) whipping cream
- ¼ powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 T Amaretto liquor (optional)
- Crush biscuits in a food processor or put in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Grind the almonds in a food processor untili it resembles a course flour or a finely ground meal. Mix the crushed biscuits and almond flour together with the powdered sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter until it resembles damp/wet sand. Pat into a tart pan and refrigerate at least 1 hour or even overnight.
- Bake at a 359 F degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, chill in the fridge for about an hour if you are planning to assemble the same day.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a heavy bottomed 2 quart sauce pan. Stir in butter pieces and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly until the curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and the first bubbles appears on the surface (about 6 to 8 minutes).
- Transfer the lemon curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (make sure the plastic wrap comes in direct contact with the lemon curd). By doing this the curd does not create a film on top. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. The lemon curd can be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed. The day you assemble the tart, fold the lemon curd with the softened mascarpone cheese until completely combined.
- In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and amaretto. Once well incorporated, add the cold whipping cream and beat until medium stiff peaks form.
- Fill the tart with the lemon curd mascarpone mixture and smooth over. Next top with the whipped cream and smooth over the entire lemon curd mixture.
- Top the tart with your choice of fresh fruit that is in season.