Our next entry in the 2012 Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest comes courtesy of Vivi Rathbon, author of the blog My Beautiful Air. Vivi is a native of Boise, Idaho, USA, but she's called Buenos Aires home for the last three years.
Vivi submitted a recipe for tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone (quince paste and mascarpone tart). I was drawn to her recipe because I saw it as a novel twist on a staple offering at Argentine bakeries, pasta frola, a shortcrust tart featuring a filling of ruby-red dulce de membrillo or quince paste. Vivi talks about the inspiration for her recipe in a blog post:
Although I had always enjoyed dulce de membrillo, I had never considered cooking with it, until the enlightening discovery of David Lebovitz’s Easy Jam Tart recipe, which is also made with quince jam.
I elected to attempt his jam tart using dulce de membrillo and add my own addition—mascarpone—a mild cream cheese to serve as a creamy complement and balance to the sugary jam. I was intrigued about Lebovitz's use of cornmeal in the crust and thought this recipe could make for a great cooking adventure and culinary union of French patisserie and Argentine simplicity.
The mascarpone added a pleasant creaminess, but the real star of this tart for me turned out to be the crust. I loved the light crunch and subtle corn flavor provided by the polenta. I would definitely consider using this dough again for pasta frola.
I also found that the filling firmed up a bit more by the next day, which made the tart easier to slice and serve, though something tells me that most won't be able to wait that long to take the first bite.
Tarta de dulce de membrillo con mascarpone | Quince Paste and Mascarpone Tart
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
dash of vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
dash of salt
dash of baking powder [I added ¼ teaspoon.]
1 ½ lb quince paste [I didn't use the full amount.]
1 (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese
In a mixing bowl, add the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, and mix thoroughly until you achieve a uniform consistency. [Note: I creamed together the butter and sugar first and then added the eggs and vanilla.]
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients—the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly until you have a sticky dough. Roll the dough into a large ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour until the dough is firm.
Reserve a portion of the dough for the top layer [Note: roughly 1/3 of the dough]. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of an ungreased tart pan with a removable bottom.
Using a fork, mash half of the quince paste to a spreadable consistency, and spread it over the dough for the bottom layer of the tart. Then spread the mascarpone over the quince paste. Cut the remainder of the block of quince paste into thin slices and arrange it on top for the final layer of filling.
Using the reserved portion of dough, roll out small balls and flatten them, and place them on top to form an upper crust. Sprinkle with sugar. [Note: I forgot this final step!]
Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. [Note: I allowed the tart to cool to room temperature before serving.]
Previous Posts about the Recipe Contest: