For the last of my spruce tips I’ve had an idea kicking around that I finally put into action. Mangos have a pine-y taste to them that I thought might nicely mirror the spruce-tips, but I didn’t want to just toss a mango with spruce tips and yogurt or sugar. I once made this amazingly delicious (and gorgeous) fresh fig and rosemary tart, and with Mr. Andrew’s birthday on the horizon, I had the time and reason to go all out on a birthday desert experiment. I was a little nervous that the mango might overwhelm the spruce tips so I incorporated spruce-tips into every part of the tart.
It turned out gorgeous, delicious, and very spruce-tip-y. The crust is almost a shortbread, the lemon cream filling is beautifully silky and citrus-y, and the mangoes on top give a third texture to the tart as well as a nice pop of fruit, AND the spruce tips jump out in each component.
Birthday boy approved!
You’ll see that I began the whole process the evening before by combining spruce tips and sugar. I didn’t go whole hog and make an infused sugar to be kept for later use. I’ve actually never done that, but every time I make something sweet with spruce tips (like last year’s kick-ass spruce-tip marmelade) I try and combine the spruce-tips and the sugar ahead of time to essentially macerate the spruce-tips. It’s the same concept as mixing berries and sugar or apples and sugar and letting them sit so that the juices are drawn out and mixed with the sugar, while at the same time slightly softening the fruit. I find when I have spruce-tip goodies, like spruce-tip shortbread, when the spruce-tips are combined without this process, that the spruce-tip flavor tends to get buried and the spruce tips can sometimes become a little crunchy.
Spruce-tip, Mango, & Lemon Cream Tart
For spruce-tip sugar:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh spruce-tips – finely diced
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (NOT STONE-GROUND)
- 1 tablespoon spruce-tip sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 & 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons finely diced fresh spruce-tips
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 cup marsapone cheese
- 1/4 cup spruce-tip sugar
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons spruce-tip sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 large mango
The day before you plan to make your tart blend finely diced fresh spruce tips with sugar and place in refrigerator in a covered container. The easiest way to do this is to throw the sugar and spruce tips into whatever kind of food processor you have, but hand dicing and stirring together works just fine.
The crust and the filling can also each be made a day ahead if they’re kept covered and separate, with the crust kept at room temp and the filling in the refrigerator.
Mix flour, cornmeal, and spruce-tip sugar together until evenly combined. Mix in butter and diced fresh spruce-tips. Stir until mixture resembles coarse meal with no clumps larger than a pea.
Slowly mix in ice-water until it just holds together. Test in your hand. If the dough crumbles apart, continue adding 1/2 teaspoon ice-water until it holds together.
Evenly press dough into the bottom and sides of your spring-form or tart pan (yes, you really do need to use one). Use a spoon to even out any lumpy bits and make sure the inner corners of your crust aren’t too much thicker than the rest of the crust. Refrigerate crust for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake crust in the center of your oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Once done, let cool in the pan.
Whisk together the sour cream, mascarpone, spruce-tip sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
Heat up the spruce-tip sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Stir regularly for 4-5 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved and a thick syrup forms. Take off the heat and add honey and lemon juice, stir until fully combined.
Slice your mango about 1/4 inch thick or a little less.
Remove crust from pan. Pour in filling, smoothing out with a spatula. Lay mango slices in a rosette pattern by starting at the outer-edge and then spiraling inwards with each piece half over-lapping the last.
Use a basting brush to lightly glaze the mango with the spruce-tip honey glaze.
Takes about an hour and half to make (not counting the previous evening’s sugar work) and serves eight generous portions.
Notes: I once made this crust with stone-ground cornmeal and ended up feeling like I might break a tooth! A regular medium grind cornmeal is great. Sergei, one of the tasters, asked if the cornmeal was really necessary. I like the added crunch and mellow sweetness of the cornmeal, but I think you could easily just substitute more flour for the cornmeal if you wanted to leave it out.