More than desserts

Blog devoted to delicious desserts, healthy food and other good things

Simple strawberry tart with mascarpone cream

Desserts may not be the healthiest food on earth but when prepared at home from good quality ingredients and in the spirit of creativity, they can be fun and much less of a health hazard than the commercially made ones. You get to select the ingredients knowing exactly what is going to be used.

In my opinion, many commercially made cakes or other desserts are overly sweet. When I make a cake at home, I usually adjust the amount of sugar to my taste, using between 1/4 to 1/2 cup less than the recipe suggests.

Although some nutritionists urge people to completely avoid sweets and any sugar containing desserts, I believe that to stay healthy, we don’t need to deprive ourselves of our favorite sweet treats, remembering to savor them rather than devour. Eliminating desserts from our lives would be less fun and probably unrealistic.

Many people “eat with their eyes”, thinking about having a second slice of a visually attractive cake or pie, even before they finish the first one. I encourage everybody to eat mindfully and savor each bite noticing its richness and texture, appreciating the aroma, paying attention to how your senses react and how your mood starts shifting. Follow the sensations when the dessert melts in your mouth. Notice how different that feels from mindlessly shoving pieces of cake into your mouth.

You can put the fork down while you chew and make pauses between bites. It’s helpful to remember about conscious breathing. When we eat mindfully, we enjoy the food more, are satisfied faster and tend to eat less.

This tart is perfect for spring and very easy to make. Strawberries 🍓🍓 are in season, are quite inexpensive and available everywhere. I usually buy them at farmers’ markets – they are smaller and sweeter than the big ones sold in grocery stores. They are also slightly more expensive, but it’s worth it to spend a little more money on something delicious. Apart from their exquisite taste and juicy texture, they are a great source of vitamins C and K, antioxidants, potassium and fiber and may lower risk of chronic diseases and inflammation in the body.

I made this tart last night and invited a few friends over to share it with. We ate the whole tart in one sitting, in silence, for the first time practicing mindful eating 🧘‍♀️🧘‍♂️. When finished, each of us shared their experience. While concentrating on tasting the slice of cake, without any talking, all of us noticed a shift in the mood and pleasant sensations in the body that normally- when we are busy interacting – go unnoticed. It was fun and we will repeat this practice, possibly challenging ourselves to eating a whole meal in silence.

Although for some of us, with our kids, work and other distractions, mindful eating may not be realistic on a daily basis, I’d like to encourage you to try it, starting small, possibly from eating an apple alone, being fully present, with attention on its aroma, texture and taste. You could enhance this practice on weekends at home, including your family. Have one course of dinner in silence, with TV turned off and share the experience with each other. Enjoy the togetherness and savor each bite – you may discover that when paying attention to your body signals and the food you are eating, you may eat less and be more satisfied than ever before.

The tart is ready.

Ingredients (for one tart):

  • 1 1/2 cup flour (170g)
  • 1/4 cup powdered or castor sugar (50 g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, preferably European brand, softened and cut into small bits (120g)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp ice water (as needed)
  • 16 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  1. Blend the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold bits of butter and mix by hand until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with small bits of butter. (Another option is to process the mixture on pulse mode in a food processor.)
  2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and continue mixing with hand until they are incorporated and the mixture resembles a fine meal.
  3. Stir in the ice water with hand, one tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is moistened enough to gather and mold into a ball.
  4. Wrap the dough with plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The dough may be frozen for up to two months.
  5. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, and allow to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough. Lift and turn it as you work, keeping the work surface dusted with flour to prevent sticking. Fit the dough into a tart pan and press it firmly against the sides and bottom without stretching it. Trim off the excess dough, cover and chill it in the pan for at least 30 minutes before  baking.
  6. To bake the tart shell, prick the dough all over with a fork, cover lightly with foil and bake at 375° F (190° C) for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking until golden.

Ingredients for cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar (or to your taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Pour  heavy cream into a chilled bowl. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Whip with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add mascarpone cheese and lemon juice and continue beating on a low speed until fully incorporated. Fold the cream into the tart, smooth it out with a spatula or knife and place the sliced strawberries on top.

 

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