These Stone fruit Lemon Mascarpone Tarts are sweet and tangy, with a crunchy base and a velvety smooth custard, pillow for the succulent, luscious stone fruit and edible flowers.
[This post is sponsored by the Italian Center Shop. We've been compensated, but all opinions are our own].
It might be just the 15th of August for you, but today in Italy it's Ferragosto, a national holiday up, down and across the Italian coasts, a day where, as it often happens in Italian culture, sacred and profane lose their contours.
On one side we have the Catholic commemoration of the assumption of the Virgin Mary to Heaven: in many towns religious processions are held where people carry the statue of Jesus’ mother Mary, while fire works explode in the air. In seaside towns, processions are on boats on where they carry the statue. Two years ago, we were lucky to spend Ferragosto in Positano and we were part of the boat procession. We still have goose bumps at the memory!
On the other side, a reminiscence of the ancient harvest festivals that were formalized by the emperor Octavian Augustus in 18 BC under the name Feriae Augusti (Festivals of Augustus), from which its name Ferragosto is derived. During these celebrations, draught animals were exempt from their labor and dressed up with flower decorations, while horse races were organised across the Roman Empire. This tradition remains alive today with the Palio of Siena, held on the 16th of August. And we were there few years ago, witnessing the celebrations on the streets of Siena, after the race.
If you're in Italy around this time of the year, you will notice that, other than tourists, the cities are quite deserted and many restaurants and stores are closed. It's because the majority of people choose to plan their holidays around Ferragosto, to hit the family home, a beach, the mountains, travel, or just go out on a day trip. What is common to all, is the usually massive lunch that is consumed on this day, either at home or at a restaurant, and that always involves many courses, ending with a dessert and caffé espresso.
These Stone fruit Lemon Mascarpone Tarts would be highly appreciated on every table, sweet and tangy, velvety and crunchy, with succulent, luscious stone fruit topping. And we all know, if it has fruit, it is a healthy dessert 😉 . Just kidding, here.
The preparation is a bit lengthy and it requires a bit of time and patience for the waiting time between one layer and the other. The crust is a mix of Digestive and Amaretti cookies, the Amaretti, typical Italian almond cookies bring a more crunchy texture and a lovely subtle almond flavor. If you want to intensify that flavor, you can add ¼ tsp of almond extract, but it is absolutely optional. Once the crust has baked in the oven, it needs to cool completely for half an hour. That gives you time to make the custard with egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice and zest, and mascarpone. Here, you cannot skip any of the ingredients, or the wonderful velvety texture would be affected. The ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, together with the rind, counterbalance perfectly the sweetness of the condensed milk, and the mascarpone just adds to the smoothness. Now it's time to pour the custard over the crust and bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes. After that, more waiting time is involved, both at room temperature and in the fridge (for a total of 5 hours), so plan that, if you want to serve them as a dessert for your dinner. I started mine in the morning and by dinner time they were ready to enjoy.
As for the pretty topping, I used the amazing B.C. stone fruit, juicy and naturally sweet: peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. We marinated the slices just to soften them a bit with some limoncello, lemon juice and sugar, but feel free to add raw fruit to your tarts. For an even prettier look we added edible flowers, adorable and also pleasing to the tastebuds.
Wherever your Ferragosto finds you, hope you enjoy your day and these Stone fruit Lemon Mascarpone Tarts.
Song of the day: "Holiday" by Madonna.Print
Adapted on a recipe found on "Southern Living - No Taste Like Home" by Kelly Alexander.
- 2 cups digestive cookies, crumbled
- ½ cup amaretti cookies, crumbled
- 1 Tbsp icing sugar
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- ¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese
- 1 peach, 1 nectarine, 2 apricots, 2 plums, cut in wedges
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (or limoncello if you have it)
- edible flowers for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Stir together first 4 ingredients; firmly press crumb mixture on bottom and sides of 9 round tart pans with removable bottoms (about 4-5 Tbsp per pan).
- Place tart pans on a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F for 10 min or until lightly browned.
- Cool completely in baking sheet on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).
- Whisk together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zest, and egg yolks, until well blended; whisk in mascarpone cheese until blended smooth. Spoon mixture into prepared tart shells.
- Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until almost set (the center will set as they chill).
- Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).
- Chill 4 hours.
- Arrange sliced stone fruit wedges and edible flowers decoratively over tarts just before serving.
Disclosure: [This post is sponsored by the Italian Center Shop. We've been compensated, but all opinions are our own].