Spring sweetness: Strawberry, basil and cream tart recipe

IT SEEMS as though the feeling in the air has changed. Spring is our favourite time of the year, not only for the racing carnival, but the abundance of amazing produce that is available.

Everything is vibrant and fresh. Vegetables such as asparagus, sweet corn, fresh peas and zucchini are thriving.

Our garden has been taken over by the zucchinis.

Fruit such as papaya, rhubarb, pineapple and blood oranges are perfect this time of the year, and even strawberries are cheap and sweet.

They are great for creating quick, simple desserts like this one - a yummy strawberry dessert with a hint of basil.

Strawberry, basil and cream tart

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry

1 ½ cups of plain flour

125g unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into cubes

1/3 cup of icing sugar

1 egg yolk

drizzle of cold water.

OR You can create a base like that of a cheesecake and use one packet of plain biscuits with about 80-100g of butter, melted.

Filling

250ml cream

165g mascarpone

1 vanilla bean

1 tbs of honey

1 - 2 punnets of strawberries

3 tbs of balsamic vinegar

½ cup of pistachios, toasted

1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped.

METHOD:

Place flour, icing sugar and butter cubes into a food processor and blitz until they look like breadcrumbs. Add egg yolk and blitz again. If the pastry doesn't form a ball in the processor, slowly drizzle a small amount of cold water as it's running. Once the pastry is done, it will form a ball to one side of the processor.

Place pastry on to a floured bench and bring together softly - do not knead. Wrap the pastry in lightly floured cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once the pastry has been cooled in the fridge, remove and spray oil your rectangle fluted tart tin, or use a 23cm round fluted tart tin.

Roll out the pastry on a piece of floured baking paper in the shape of the tin until it's about 3-4mm thick. Then flip the baking paper over onto the tin, slowly remove the baking paper and press in the pastry to all edges, and trim the edges of pastry, leaving a little over the top. Place back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Take out pastry and line with baking paper. Add weights such as rice or baking weights, then place into the oven for 10 minutes. Then remove the weights and baking paper and continue to bake for 12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely - trim any edges to level up.

OR If you use the biscuit base, simply crumb the biscuits in a processor and melt the butter. Combine until it resembles wet sand. Press into tart pan and refrigerate. No need to bake this one. Make sure the biscuits are wet enough, though - otherwise it will become crumbly and fall apart when you slice it. The biscuits should look quite wet with the butter.

In a bowl, whip the mascarpone until slightly fluffy, then add the cream. Whip on medium to high until quite stiff but not over-whipped. Stir in honey and taste. Add more if you wish. Pour this mixture into your cooled tart case.

In a small bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar and vanilla bean. Cut strawberries in halves and place in the balsamic mix. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain.

Carefully push the top of the strawberry into the cream. Continue until the entire tart is done.

Crush your toasted pistachios and sprinkle over the tart, then finalise with finely chopped basil leaves. Place in the fridge to firm up and then serve.

Dan and Steph Mulheron won My Kitchen Rules in 2013. Visit http://www.danandsteph.com.au or find them on Facebook - Dan & Steph - My Kitchen Rules, and Instagram - danandsteph13.



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