I realized a couple of years into our marriage that the occasions to take out our china and break into grandma’s pretty silveware were going to be limited if we did not expand the meaning of "occasions". Even a simple and casual dinner with friends is now considered one. A moment to celebrate friendship, time set aside to connect or reconnect, all made special by the conversations and the people around them. Even a simple dinner calls for a special dessert like these Pumpkin Seed Mascarpone Mousse And Raspberry Tartelettes and my grandmother’s vintage dessert spoons. Just because.
I like to set a pretty table and make a special meal when we have company and you can guess that there is a treat awaiting them for dessert. We are not stuck into fussy table settings and usually end up taking our plates to the back deck during Spring and Summer or cozy up in front of the fireplace during the winter. I also love the fact that I can take the dogs to the dock around 7pm and sit there watching the sunset while the porpoises give us a little show. Pretty idyllic. Something to take in and make time for.
We had friends over the other night and decided to get some crabs at the dock and have a simple crab boil for dinner. I knew we’d have to cover the deck table with layers of newspaper and just get ready for things to get messy. But oh so much fun! What I did not expect was for B. to call me from the dock and ask us to bring the party over there. I trust him and I knew there was a reason. We were not disappointed. The sea was at full tide, the sunset gorgeously pink, yellow and red and the porpoises were giving us the funniest game of hide and seek. Good company, good food, delicious surroundings. I don’t know how I got so lucky and I tried to take it all in since I know we won’t be here forever.
I wish my dad would have been there with us that night because it would have been the perfect setting to wish him a Happy Father’s Day (he also had a birthday just a few days ago!). I know he would loved it and he would have loved the whole meal, complete with these tarts. And I know my grandma would have loved to see her pretty silverware hanging out at the dock in a very informal setting. She was cool like that.
My intentions were to make pistachio and mascarpone mousse tarts but I was already using all of my pistachio stash for another project. I am stubborn though. I wanted something green to contrast with the red of the raspberries I intended to use. I looked around in the pantry and remembered a container of raw pumpkin seeds. Hmmm…would it work? Well, there is no better way to find out than to just do it, right?
Oh yes…it does! The tartelettes start with basic shortcrust rounds (or sable dough) set at the bottom of a tart ring and topped with a layer of almond cream. The pumpkin seeds are finely ground before being mixed in with mascarpone and whipped cream to make the mousse. To finish the tarts are studded with plump and tasty fresh raspberries. I admit there is a new store opening up nearby and with opening specials running all week, I got ingredients for close to nothing but if either mascarpone are hard to find or cost prohibitive where you live, you can substitute cream cheese and other berries like strawberries .
Pumpkin Seed Mascarpone Mousse and Raspberry Tartelettes:
For the tart shells:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar, unsifted
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (190gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt
For the almond cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
Pumpkin Seed Mascarpone Mousse:
200 ml heavy cream
4 oz (120gr) mascarpone, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
1/3 cup (80gr) raw pumpkin seeds, ground
2 cups fresh raspberries
Prepare the tart shells:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen it up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months. Cut out eight rounds with a 3-inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
Prepare the almond cream:
Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir it in carefully instead of whisking it (you do not want to emulsify it or it will rise while baking). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place the 8 baked rounds of dough in eight 3-inch pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool.
Prepare the mousse:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks and reserve it in the refrigerator while you prepare the mousse.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar with a spatula (really no need to put your mixer to use on that one). Add the ground pumpkin seeds and mix thoroughly until incorporated.
Carefully fold the reserved whipped cream into the mascarpone base by placing your spatula in the center of the bowl, scooping the bottom over the top. Give your bowl a 45 degree turn and repeat until the batter is smooth.
Assemble the tarts:
Place the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a large dollop of mousse right in the center of the tartelettes, leaving a small border all around. Place raspberries all around the mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I need to end this post by telling you that I feel like the luckiest girl on my block lately and I’ll tell you more about it during the week when I am done rubbing my eyes in amazement. All I can say is that you will see a group of bloggers doing a bunch of fun and food related things in a pretty cool place. All in the name of research. Of course. Which reminds me I need to start packing…