Look no further for an awesomely bright summer dessert for 4th of July or just your next weekend barbecue. For a recent Very Important birthday party for beloved and brilliant Barney, I was invited to bring a dessert to accompany the birthday cake. I needed something light and fresh, fruity and summery, elegant and sophisticated, and the complete opposite of cake. This nectarine and mascarpone tart, resplendent with its gingersnap crust, and studded with crystallized ginger, was a perfect find.
I increased the crust size for a 10 inch tart pan, but used the same amount of filling as the recipe. I used just about an entire tub of Trader Joe’s triple ginger cookies (fresh, ground and crystallized ginger) for the super easy crust, which is like a crumbly crisp buttery gingersnap. The filling itself is a creamy, tangy dairy wonderland with cream cheese, mascarpone, and sour cream. The lemon zest is a must to brighten up the flavor and it ties in nicely with the stonefruit’s tartness. Don’t skip the ginger bits in the filling or on top, they add a slight bite to make the flavor more complex and complements the sweetness nicely. A tip: buy the crystallized ginger at Whole Foods or a food coop at the bulk section – so you can get a few tablespoons at a time (I don’t know how much crystallized ginger you use in life, but a few tablespoons will last me a few years).
The nectarines absolutely must be at the peak of ripeness, sweet and juicy without being tasteless and flat or mushy. I even bought peaches as an alternative just in case. For me, removing the nectarine pit was the hardest part of this recipe! For a more rustic tart, you could omit the glaze, but I did add the peach jam glaze which not only improved the presentation, but also helped the crystallized ginger stick to the fruit. I added a few blueberries for a nice contrast in flavor and color.
I would definitely recommend adding the fruit just before serving / presenting if possible so that the juices don’t make the tart soggy. I made the crust and filling (no-cook!) the day before and added the fruit the day of serving. This tart sat out a few hours before serving, because let’s face it was pretty to look at and I was rather proud that it didn’t collapse in the car ride over – I held my breath the entire time. However, I think it would have tasted even better 30 minutes out of the fridge rather than at room temperature as the filling, although not runny, was too soft for my taste. Even so, I would make this again in a heartbeat whenever stonefruit are in season and a Very Important occasion dictates a spectacular sweet celebration.