Few ingredients inspire me as much as fresh fruit and berries. When I see beautiful seasonal produce in its prime, I’m simultaneously pulled to immediately enjoy it in its natural state and also to create a beautiful recipe that truly does it justice.
Fresh local strawberries are in season so briefly it feels like the blink of an eye, and these ruby red gems bear little to no resemblance the grocery store variety. Their deep sweetness deserves to be showcased in a special dessert, and for me that means something simple that won’t mask their flavor, texture, or beauty. I truly adore strawberry shortcake, but with special berries I want something a step up from that sort of rustic charm – a bit more refined, a bit more polished.
When I found a stash of gorgeous berries at my favorite local market, I knew I wanted to put them in mini tarts similar to a dessert I enjoyed recently at a fantastic restaurant. Although it might look fancy, this recipe is simpler than it may appear. Once the tart shells are made, the berry filling and whipped mascarpone topping come together in minutes. This is basically strawberries and cream, elevated, and it’s a fabulous thing.
Another thing I love about this recipe is that there is so much room to incorporate other flavors if you so choose. I kept this classic and simple, but you could experiment with steeping the cream with fresh basil, culinary lavender, or Earl Grey tea (be sure to re-chill the cream before making the whipped topping.) You could also add lemon zest to the tart dough and an extra touch of lemon juice to the filling for a citrus spin. Whichever option you choose, you have a lovely dessert worthy of featuring those rare beauties.