Last fall, Bandwidth and I planted pansies and ornamental kale in the flower beds. It took a whole weekend to get them into the rocky ground. Months later, the Polar Blast marched through Tennessee. In just a few hours, my winter flowers looked as if they'd been stomped flat. Cold temperatures had become an enemy, one that I loathed and feared.
Now, it's the end of February, a sunny, winter morning, but cold. Mother Nature seems to be saying, "Hang in there." One season is ending and another, better one is beginning. Daffodils will push through the ground. The trees will turn green. I will drive to the nursery and buy sturdy plants. The grocery store produce section will fill with color.
Until then, I will buy anemic fruit and conjure spring in my kitchen.
I associate this tart with comfort and love, because my mother used to have it waiting when I came home from school (but she made the pastry from scratch). It's a little taste of spring that will get you in the mood for warmer weather. Best of all, it's super easy to make, the kind of dessert that you can put together right before a dinner party.
I was thrilled with the result,
even though I ate way too much and derailed my diet for the next 100 years.
The fresh mint smelled so sweet, I couldn't help but toss it all over the dessert.
A Tart for Winter-Weary Cooks
1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, defrosted
1 box each of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries
Jell-O vanilla instant pudding mix
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 8 oz carton mascarpone
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like mascarpone)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 egg (for egg wash)
few drops of fresh lemon juice
few tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven according to instructions on the puff pastry box. (I put my oven on 380).
Roll out each square of puff pastry dough. Place first square on a greased baking pan. Place second sheet on top of the first. Beat the egg. Brush pastry edges with the egg wash.
Bake 15 minutes or until pastry is brown. Remove from oven and cool.
The pastry will be unbelievably poofy, but it will deflate later on. Trust.
Meanwhile, make the pudding according to instructions on the box. Chill.
Mix the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and cream. I used a wire whisk.
Spread the mascarpone mixture onto the top layer of the cooled pastry, deflating the poofiness somewhat. Spread the pudding over the mascarpone. Arrange berries on top of the pudding and sprinkle the whole thing with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with sweet-smelling mint.
Serves: 8 (if they have normal appetites). Otherwise, it's half for you and half for me.
Wherever you are today, I hope it's sunny and you have something sweet on your plate.