High Country Baking: Raspberry tart is a refreshing palate cleanser

Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Fresh raspberries cradled in their own sweetened juices and nestled in a buttery shortbread crust — this lush tart is utter simplicity and a delightful finale to a summer meal. Following a spicy or barbecued entree, the cool berries cleanse the palate, refresh the taste buds and provide welcome visual appeal.

The tart can be prepared during a two-day period; make and blind bake the crust on the first day, and fill and serve it on the second. Keep in mind that it needs at least four hours in the refrigerator before serving so the filling can set up.

Fresh berries can be substituted for the frozen ones in the puree, though more sugar will probably be required to reach the desired sweetness. I use frozen berries because they’re cheaper than fresh ones and work equally well when liquefied in the food processor.

The tart is at its best on the day it’s made, but the leftovers are still good on the following day. We like to serve slices of the tart with a dollop of whipped cream or on a plate drizzled with chocolate sauce, but no accompaniments are really necessary; it’s quite stunning on its own.

Refreshing raspberry tart

Make in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Crust

2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour (spoon and level)

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

A pinch salt

1 generous teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold

Filling

10 ounces frozen, sweetened raspberries, thawed

3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 to 2 tablespoons Creme de Cassis, optional

4 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

Make the crust: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to combine well. Cut the butter into small pieces, and add them, with the vanilla, to the processor. Pulse to moisten the dry ingredients, and then process only until the dough starts to form a ball on top of the processor’s blade. Remove the dough and roll it into an 11-inch circle. (If it is too soft to work with, then pat it into a disc and refrigerate or freeze until it is easy to handle.) Transfer the dough circle to the tart pan; gently press it into the bottom and up the sides (take care not to stretch it), and trim the edge even with the pan’s rim. Freeze or refrigerate it in the pan, covered, until it is quite firm (10 to 15 minutes in the freezer).

Blind bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line the frozen dough with nonstick foil or lightly greased regular foil or parchment paper (nonstick or greased side against the dough), carefully molding it to the bottom and sides of the dough. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pan on a cookie sheet, and bake until the dough is firm. Start checking at 20 minutes. Gently remove the pie weights and foil liner, return the pan to the oven, and continue baking until the shell is lightly golden and set. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Make the filling: Puree the thawed, sweetened raspberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Strain the puree into a bowl and discard the seeds. You should have ¾ to 1 cup of puree.

Put the sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan, and whisk to mix well. Add the puree, and stir to combine. Heat at medium-low, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to boil. Continue at a low boil, stirring, for several minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat; stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the Creme de Cassis, if using. Pour into a bowl, taste, and add more sugar if desired, and then set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (refrigerate to speed up the process).

Use a silicone or rubber spatula to gently fold the fresh raspberries into the puree, saving several to decorate the top. Try to keep the berries vibrant and whole; avoid mashing them. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the mixture to the tart shell, and spread it to fill the shell evenly. You may have some puree left in the bowl; that’s fine. Refrigerate the tart, loosely covered, for at least five hours to set the filling. Decorate the center of the tart with additional raspberries, if you like the look. Cut the tart while it’s cold, and serve it cool.

Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards and The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco) is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. She lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Jul 22, 2014 02:49PM Published Jul 22, 2014 02:43PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.