Italian-style Strawberry/Mascarpone Mousse Pie
Week Three: When The Fragola Hits Your Eye Pie
It’s Spring!!! And spring means… Well, spring means lots of things. It means no more snow; green grass; singing birds; open windows; it means that I can stop wearing three layers of clothing, walking around in a blanket and bugging everyone to turn up the heat. But spring also means strawberries. So here’s my take on the whole strawberry pie thing. It’s based on the popular recipe for strawberries in balsamic with ricotta or mascarpone. I fully intended on incorporating aged balsamic in this somehow (most likely in the glaze), but the flavors were so fantastic without it, I was afraid to screw up a good thing. Maybe next time.
Oh, and the treacly Valentine’s Day motif was an unintentional side-effect of my method for slicing strawberries. But, between you and me, I think I know what you’re making your sweetheart next holiday. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re a big sappy romantic. Happy spring you big sap.
STRAWBERRY/MASCARPONE MOUSSE PIE
Sweet Shortbread Crust
(based on the Baked Sweet Tart Shell from Epicurious.com)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp of cold water (use only if the crust is too crumbly)
4 oz white chocolate
Pulse together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add yolks and vanilla and pulse just until incorporated and mixture begins to clump. Add water if needed.
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion. In a 10″ pie tin, pat out balls with floured fingertips onto bottom and up and over (slightly) the sides in an even 1/4-inch layer. Bringing the dough up and over the sides of the pan will help keep the crust from being pulled down the sides as it shrinks during baking. (If mixture sticks to your fingers, spread a sheet of plastic wrap over it and pat through plastic wrap.) Prick bottom of shell all over with a fork, then chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven on or over a large sheet of foil (to catch any drips of butter) until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake crust until bottom is golden and sides are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes more. Do not let the crust get more than very light brown, or it will be overdone. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
When crust is completely cooled, melt white chocolate (can be done in microwave in 30-45 sec intervals). With a pastry brush, spread a solid layer of the white chocolate over the entire inside of the crust (including the sides). This will prevent the wet filling from making the crust soggy as well as making it delicious. Place in refrigerator to harden while you prepare the filling. Crust can be made a day ahead.
8-10 oz fresh or frozen (and thawed) strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
Puree strawberries in blender or mixer; press once through a sieve to remove seeds. Measure the strawberry juice to make 1 cup of liquid. In a small saucepan, mix granulated sugar with cornstarch; gradually whisk in the strawberry juice and the lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear (about 5 to 7 minutes). Set aside to cool while you make the mousse filling.
Mascarpone/Ricotta Mousse Filling
15-16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
16 oz mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of one lemon
1/4 cup grated white chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
In a large bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine the ricotta, mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Using an electric beater or stand mixer, whip the mixture until thoroughly combined, smooth and fluffy (about 3-4 min). Gently mix in white chocolate shavings. In a medium bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Mix about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cheese mixture, then gently fold in the rest.
1/2 – 1 lbs fresh strawberries
Cut strawberries into roughly 1/4″ thick slices. Line the bottom of the cooled pie crust with sliced strawberries (Skip this step if you expect the pie to be around for longer than 3 days as the moisture from the strawberries will leach out and liquify the mousse some). Reserve some mousse (at least 1 cup) for decorating. Gently spoon the mascarpone mousse into the pie crust and spread smooth, leaving a small amount of room at the top to accommodate the glaze and sliced berries. Spread the cooled glaze on top of the mousse. Arrange the sliced berries on the top of the glaze and pipe remaining mousse to decorate as you see fit. Chill until set (at least 3 hours).