There's a grocery store in the East that is my haven from the ho hum supermarkets that normally claim my hard-earned dollars. If you have never been to Wegmans, you must visit. I take all of my out-of-town guests there because it really is that good. Really! Anyhow, my local Wegmans, which opened up just before Thanksgiving 2008, has a fabulous cheese counter. Thanks to their generous sampling policies, I am now hooked on Comte (a French cow's milk cheese with a smooth finish) and Midnight Moon (a domestic goat cheese with caramel undertones). Every time I go, I try a new cheese. I bought mascarpone for the first time a few weeks ago. And then it sat in my fridge ... and sat ... and sat until the "Use By" date came. So, I was "forced" to use it or lose it last night. The following is an adaptation I found in one of my many magazines. Since it's enough different from the original recipe, I think I can call it my own. Enjoy!
Berry Chocolate Mascarpone Tart
1/2 cup unsalted almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
4 oz (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon almond extract
ice cold water as needed
1 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt
9 tbsp. cocoa
4 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided
1/4 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1. In food processor, process almonds and sugar until finely ground. (Do not turn into a butter!) Add butter, almond extract, salt and flour. Pulse until the mixture turns crumbly. Add enough water and pulse in processor until mixture forms a ball. Place in tart pan. (If using a pan that does not have a removable bottom, grease the pan for easier release. Or, use parchment paper.) Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool.
2. In small pan over very low heat, combine cocoa and butter. Stir until butter melts, then add 3/4 cup powdered sugar and dash of salt. Continue stirring. Add milk or half-and-half until the chocolate reaches a thick syrup consistency. Pour over almond crust and spread to within 1/2 in of the edge of the crust. Cool.
3. In medium bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and mascarpone. Whip until fully incorporated and the marscarpone lumps are gone. Spread on top of chocolate.
4. Top with fresh berries and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight.
Lessons learned: This isn't the exact recipe that I made. I had to fudge some things (as usual). I was out of chocolate chips, so I pulled out the cocoa and did it the hard way. Otherwise, I would have used semi-sweet chips with a little butter and milk to create the chocolate ganache. That would have been much easier, but the result here was just as good; perhaps better. If you go this route, don't add all the sugar at once. Taste it as you go until you reach the desired sweetness. Because everything else is so sweet, this does need a little bitterness so you don't get a sugar rush.
The original recipe called for whipping cream, which is what I've stated here. I didn't have any on hand so I used a packet of Dream Whip and a 1/2 cup of whole milk. I omitted the sugar (Dream Whip has plenty in it already) and reduced the amount of vanilla. It worked like a charm! If you want a really white cream, use clear vanilla instead of the brown stuff.
I topped the dessert with thawed raspberries. Fresh would have been much better, but I liked the syrup run-off of the frozen ones.
It keeps well for a day, but probably not more than that. It shouldn't be a problem, though, because this is so good, I doubt you'll have leftovers.