It’s Valentine’s Day, the sun is shining and the florists are doing a roaring trade. Despite all the commercial corniness, I think the world needs a little more love and a bit of cheering up, so if we need the excuse of a particular day to spoil our partners, give some gifts and share a a bit of love around, then so be it. Or, how about, much like The Mad Hatter’s ‘un-birthday’ where every day is worthy of an un-birthday party, we make every day ‘un-Valentine’s-day’ and spread the love through the whole year?
I am loving the cooler turn the weather has taken in Sydney – it’s still hot, but the promise of autumn is in the air. We have switched of the air con and the fan, the duvet in the morning is just that much more tempting to snuggle under, and the hot showers are getting longer. This is harvest time, where the vast bounty of summer fruits give the last big push before the cooler months – tomatoes are at their absolute best, peaches are bountiful and juicily ripe, and the very last cherries have made an appearance – just in time to make this easy, creamy tart, perfect for after a romantic meal, or for easy summer entertaining.
If cherries are out of season or just not your thing, don’t worry! This tart base is a wonderful blank canvas, perfect for topping with any kind of berries, stone fruit like plums, apricots, or peaches, tropical fruits like passionfruit or mango, or even just decadently smothered with chocolate. Let your imagination go wild. This tart also comes together very quickly, if you are in a super hurry, chill the base and then the filling in the freezer as you go along. If the tart has 2 or 3 hours to sit in the fridge, it will slice and serve easier and the flavours will have more time to meld together.
I have used a 35x11cm long, loose based tart tin for this recipe, but the filling and biscuit base should be enough for a 24cm round tart tin. If you are using a different size tin, have some extra biscuits and butter handy just in case!
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
Cherry, Honey & Mascarpone Tart
for the base:
- 250 g plain, sweet biscuits (I used Scotch Fingers)
- 100 g unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
- 250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 250 g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 60 ml / 4 Tbsp milk
- 60 ml / 4 Tbsp runny honey
- 30 ml / 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- zest of 1 orange
- for the topping:
- 300-400 g cherries
- 4 Tbsp caster sugar
- small mint sprigs to decorate
- Line the base of the tin with baking paper, then set aside. Process the biscuits in a food processor until they look like fine, sandy crumbs, then pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the melted butter, mixing well - the mixture should look like damp, golden sand - perfect for making a sandcastle with - if it is too wet, add some more crushed biscuits, or even some desiccated coconut, if it is too dry add a splash of milk or water. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and press down evenly over the base and up the sides. Put the tart baser in the freezer while you make the filling.
- To make the filling, put the mascarpone, cream cheese, and milk into a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or an electric hand mixer to beat together until smooth. Add the honey, lemon juice, vanilla essence, and orange zest, stir well to combine, then taste and add a little more honey or sugar to taste.
- Take the tart base out of the freezer, then spread the filling mixture evenly in. If there is a bit much, don’t overfill the base, it will keep in the fridge for a few days and is perfect for dolloping over pancakes or as a little dessert for one. Put the filled tart in the fridge while you prepare the topping. The longer it is in the fridge before serving, the better as it will give it time to firm up - 1-3 hours is ideal, but overnight, loosely covered with cling film is perfect too.
- Wash and dry the cherries. Take half (look for the less beautiful ones), remove the stems and de-stone them. Put the halved cherries in a small saucepan with the sugar and cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries have started to release some juice - this will only take a few minutes. Set aside for around five minutes to cool.
- When you are ready to serve the tart, carefully release it from the tin (a small jar or two placed under the base will help here) then place the whole cherries all over the top, pour over the halved cherries, decorate with some mint leaves and serve.
TIPS & TRICKS:
While this tart can be made quickly, it does benefit from a little time resting in the fridge – as it sits, the filling moistens the base which will stop it from crumbling when you cut it.
Go ahead and use whatever seasonal fruit that you have with this tart! Blueberries can be treated in almost exactly the same way with cherries and look very striking.
If you can’t get ahold of mascarpone, try using a firm ricotta, some drained Greek yoghurt (labne), quark, or sour cream – please bear in mind these substitutions will affect the texture and taste of the final tart, but it is very forgiving