Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nectarine, Pistachio, and Gingersnap Tart

Now that the summer is essentially almost over (SAD REALIZATION), I feel like cranking out every last summery recipe I can think of, knowing fully well that even if I do manage to make those five other ice creams that I wanted to try, and that awesome tropical panna cotta that looked sooo good, and just one more thing with fresh berries, I wouldn't even have time to share everything with you before summer actually comes to an end. It's sad, but it's the truth.  The silver lining, though, is that fall, aka the best season ever, is right around the corner.  It's no crazy revelation, that's for sure, but it excites me nonetheless.  Spiced things, hot cidery things, brown buttery things, and nutty things...I'm getting so pumped just thinking about all the possibilities that await me.  Apples and cinnamon and ginger and even pumpkin things are going to be heavily featured on the blog soon, but until that happens, let's just take a moment to savor the last few days of summer and make the most of them.  Let's make delicious treats with the last few good things summer has to offer. 

Fruit tarts with yummy stone fruit are just perfect for this sort of time of year. 

There's something about fruit tarts that I just love.  I love that they're so simple to prepare.  I love that they're just beautiful to look at.  I think the combination of a slightly sweet and crunchy crust, sweet cream, and fresh fruit is just stellar.  I love how deceptively difficult they seem; they appear to be labor intensive, and thus, the perfect dessert to top off any fancy occasion, when in fact, they're just the opposite.  They're quick to assemble, meaning that they should instead be considered to be a dessert that is fitting for any occasion.  I love all these things.

This is a fruit tart that combines all these things I love.  It's got a crunchy gingersnap and pistachio crust, a heavenly mascarpone frosting, and beautifully arranged slices of fresh nectarines.  It's perfection, in fruit tart form. 

Now that I've professed my love for beautiful fruit tarts and my desire to make the most of the remainder of summer, let's talk about this specific fruit tart.  I've already told you the basics: gingersnap pistachio crust, dreamy mascarpone cream, and freshly sliced nectarines are all come together to form a spectacular dessert. Nectarines are a fruit that I love, but I'll admit that they're never really on my radar.  They're the type of fruit that I'll certainly eat at least one of if I happen to come across them, but they're also the type of fruit that I tend to forget exists.  I just never remember to seek them out, and if I were confronted with a peach and a nectarine and had to make a choice between the two, then the peach would certainly win.  This was not the case this time around.  I saw a couple of beautiful photographs for nectarine tarts floating around on the Internet, and I realized that that was it.  I wanted to make a beautiful nectarine tart for myself.  

And so I did. 

The pistachio and gingersnap crust came together as an experiment of sorts.  Actually, the idea came around before the nectarine tart did.  I got the idea for a tart crust with pistachios baked right into it, but I didn't really know what I wanted to top my hypothetical crust with.  One thing led to another, and somehow, I ended up deciding to combine the pistachio tart crust with gingersnaps and nectarines.  The creamy filling, unlike the crust, was an issue that I didn't need to contemplate at all.  I knew exactly which filling I wanted to use.  The mascarpone cream I used in this tart is actually one that I've made several times before. It comes from an old copy of a Williams Sonoma cookbook that I own, and is used in a strawberry tart.  I made that lovely strawberry tart several times, and I remember thinking that the mascarpone cream was by far my favorite part of the entire tart.  I just had to incorporate that recipe into this nectarine tart, and I think it worked perfectly.  The mascarpone cream is cool and refreshing, sweet yet still light, and most importantly, just amazing on its own. It comes together in a matter of seconds if you use a hand mixer to prepare it, and I imagine that it would be just as delicious if it were topping off a big bowl of fruit as it is in this tart.  

The entire tart, once assembled, was utterly perfect, in every way I think.  The gingersnap crust added a little kick to the tart that was then calmed down by the creamy mascarpone filling, and accented by the refreshing fresh fruit that carefully adorned the top of the tart.  The tart has an unexpected hint of extra sweetness and flavor, due to the thin layer of raspberry jam that hides beneath the mascarpone filling.   The nectarines glisten from the thin layer of jam that gets brushed over them.  This nectarine, pistachio, and gingersnap tart is both a celebration of summer, and a welcome reminder of the new season that is quickly approaching.  Enjoy!

Nectarine, Pistachio, and Gingersnap Tart
crust recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
mascarpone cream filling from Williams Sonoma


For the Crust

5 ounces gingersnap cookies, lightly crushed
3 ounces unsalted pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Mascarpone Cream

8 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons raspberry jam
2 large nectarines, thinly sliced
1/4 cup peach jam


Begin by preparing the crust.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the cookies until crumbs form.  Add in the pistachios, sugar, and salt, and process until they form fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter, and process just until the crumb mixture holds together.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. I like to use a drinking glass to ensure that my crust comes out perfectly even.  Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes.  Bake the crust until golden brown, about 17-20 minutes.  Transfer the crust to a wire rack, and allow it to cool completely. 

While the crust is cooling, prepare the mascarpone cream.  In a bowl, combine the mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract, and mix together (I used a hand mixer to make it easy). 

Once the tart shell has cooled, it's time to assemble the tart.  Add the raspberry jam to the bottom of the tart shell, and spread it in a thin layer.  Pour all of the mascarpone cream on top, and smooth it out with an offset spatula.  

Arrange the nectarine slices in concentric circles, beginning on the outside, and overlapping the slices slightly. Warm the peach jam in a small pan over the stove to loosen it up.  With a brush, brush a little peach jam over all the nectarine slices.

Refrigerate the tart until well chilled, at least a few hours.  Once chilled, slice, and enjoy!

Makes 1 9-inch tart


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