True story. This is the first baking I've done since Christmas. I don't think I've even cobbled together muffins. I know! Who is this person? Things got busy after the holidays, then I went away for a week, then things got busy again. And also, some Sunday afternoons I feel more like going to the movies than creaming together butter and sugar. So many good movies to see before Oscar! By the way, Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Holy smokes. Remind me not to travel to space, okay?
My baking hiatus was broken by a most wonderful, seasonal tart. A good pal came over, wanting to watch me bake and and pick up tips. But while that did happen, we mostly drank tea, gossiped and watched Desperately Seeking Susan, the VHS version. Yes, I still have a VCR plugged into the wall. But if one has to watch Madonna in a movie, it might as well be on scratchy, jumpy video cassette, right?
So, about this tart, it looks fancy shmancy, but it's not that bad. Puff pastry is your friend, and you want a box with two sheets in it - the stuff that is already rolled out is handy. That braid looks intimidating to pull off, but it's just strips of puff pastry covered in chocolate, stacked on top of each other, sliced and twisted. Easy peasy. A not-too-sweet citrus mascarpone and cream cheese filling is spread on the base and topped with slices of oh so photogenic blood, cara cara and navel oranges. Slice them thin and be sure to pick out the seeds if any of those pesky rascals find their way near your tart.
I thought baking orange slices could be weird, or too liquidy, but I was wrong on both counts. The citrus hold their shape and bake into the creamy filling - the puff pastry base is the buttery perfection you expect it to be, but the real show stopper is that chocolate braid. People will fight over the edge pieces. Good thing I live alone so I don't have to share. The drizzle of good maple syrup and a light scattering of toasted almonds really make this dessert impressive. And in case you're wondering, yes, it makes a fine breakfast - especially on terribly cold and way too early February mornings.
Citrus & Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Tart
1 box of puff pastry (containing two sheets)
1/2 cup melted dark chocolate
1 egg yolk, whisked
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp cane sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 oranges (navel, Cara Cara, blood), peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
If your puff pastry isn't already rolled flat, then do so, rolling both sheets approximately 9" x 13".
Trim each to form a rectangle. Place one sheet of puff pastry on a parchment lined bake sheet and prick all over using a fork. Lightly dust your counter with flour and cut the second pastry sheet lengthwise into 3 even strips. Spread the melted chocolate on top of two strips. Place one chocolate strip on top of the other and top with the third clean strip. Slice lengthwise into 6 strips. Carefully twist two strips together to form a spiral shape. Repeat with remaining strips. Brush the outside edges of pastry sheet with egg yolk and carefully lay the twists on top - you may have to cut some to get a perfect fit. Press gently so it sticks. Place the tart in the fridge for 15 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the softened cheeses, sugar, zest and salt. Spread this over the chilled pastry. Arrange the sliced oranges neatly over top. Brush the chocolate twists with egg yolk.
Preheat oven to 375*F and bake approximately 30 - 40 minutes, until edges golden brown.
Serve tart warm, sprinkled with toasted almonds and drizzled with maple syrup. Serves 6-8.
Recipe adapted from Style At Home October 2013.