I’d venture to say that most of us have had recent conversations about food allergies, food intolerances, and just plain avoiding foods we think we shouldn’t be eating. It has become another whole food industry - Gluten Free, Vegan, Non GMO, Dairy Free, No Refined Sugar, Plant Based. There are Instagram feeds dedicated solely to a niche food category. I actually think it is fantastic that people are becoming more aware of what they are ingesting. We truly are what we eat. Food can either heal or harm, so why not be uber selective in what we consume. But at the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to decipher all the information and determine what to eat each day. And trying to host a dinner and side step all the allergy mine fields, can be explosive. More than that, it just plain saddens me knowing that we have poisoned our food supply resulting in this food intolerant epidemic. Which is why I mostly stick to eating as organic as possible, loads of seasonal vegetables and grains. And fruits, which is how I decided to make this tart. I bet you were wondering where all my ranting was going.
I, too, am a sufferer of food intolerances, so I get it. I annoy myself sometimes. I can, and will write another post detailing how I navigate the world side stepping foods I love but can’t eat. For now, this post is about understanding people’s choices, honoring and trying to accommodate them. Hey, it’s all good for me. These challenges only present opportunities to push myself to find new food ideas. Ain’t nothin’ bad about that.
Recently, I met up with my two friends to celebrate all three of our birthdays, and to just plain ole catch up. (That’s another subject I can write at length about - how we are all so busy that it takes months to find a mutual date to meet up. Do not get me started on that one!) At first, I was supposed to host but then plans got switched around and Donna graciously took up the mantle to host. She made a most delicious dinner featuring a salmon dish with a salsa that has my lips licking just thinking about it. I will beg her for the recipe to share. Since she was handling the dinner, she asked if I could make a dessert. Our friend Lisa was avoiding sweets. So how do you make a non sweet dessert? Fruit to the rescue. I was banking that it’s own natural sweetness would do the trick.
I did cheat ever so slightly by adding homemade strawberry jam that I reduced down with orange juice and zest to intensify the flavor. But nothing else had added sugar.
I wasn’t actually looking for an easy dessert to make but this one somehow ended up being pretty easy. The only baking portion was the puff pastry shell. Everything else was pretty much assembly.
Photos first, recipe follows.
You can use any fruit you like. These were the ones that were readily available and work well together. Plus the colors play nicely, and that always helps making a dish look more appealing.
Puff Pastry sheet
1 1/2 c Mascarpone Cheese
1 pint Heavy Cream
1 Qt Strawberries
2 c Blackberries
1.5 c Raspberries
1/3 c Strawberry Jam
Juice of an Orange & Zest
Roll out a puff pastry sheet large enough to fit a 10” pastry pan with removable bottom. Once placed in the pan, use the rolling pin to cut a clean edge of pastry.
Blind bake* the shell until completely cooked. Then set aside to cool
While the shell is baking, simmer the strawberry jam with 2 T of juice of orange & 2 t zest, reducing until thick. Set aside and let cool.
Whip the full pint of heavy cream until stiff peaks. Remove half and reserve for extra topping.
Using a spatula, gently fold in the mascarpone cheese, orange zest and blend until combined. Do not over mix in order to not deflate the whipped cream.
Spread a thin layer of the jam on the bottom of the pie crust.
Fill with the cream mixture.
Cut the strawberries and arrange all along the outer edge. Then fill in with the rest of the fruit.
Add mint leaves for decoration as well as a refreshing addition. Serve with more whipped cream
*Blind baking: Baking a crust without the filing. Some bakers use tin foil filled with dried beans, rice or baking weights to weigh the pastry down. I simply use tin foil and smaller baking pan on top.
Note: When I rolled out the pastry dough there will be left over pieces. I decided to use a small leaf shaped cookie cutter to create little decorations. I baked them at the same time as the crust, then used them in the final decorations. I added cream on one side to adhere them to the pie then topped them with jam to make them look like strawberries. Sprigs of mint not only added a pop of color but acted as the leaves to the faux strawberries.
This was a huge hit meeting the task of providing a dessert while also being refreshing and Not Sweet. Granted this was not gluten free but it served the purpose while also putting big smiles on everyone’s faces.