My husband, Martin, loves fruit tarts. He’s also trying to reduce the amount of sugar he consumes. So, when I decided to bake a fruit tart, I knew it would be better appreciated if it was baked without using added sugar. So here’s what I did:
First I looked up a recipe for the crust in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. This is it:
Rich Tart Crust
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons ice water, plus 1 tablespoon, if needed
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add butter and process until blended and mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolks and process a few more seconds.
Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over it. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to gradually gather mixture into a ball. If too dry, add another tablespoon of water. Gather into a ball. Wrap in plastic, flatten into a disk, freeze for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30) to ease rolling.
You can roll the dough between 2 sheets of plastic, sprinkling both sides with a little flour (or on a floured countertop). Unwrap dough.
Roll with light pressure from center out, adding flour, as necessary, rotating, and occasionally turning it over. When diameter is 2” greater than that of tart pan, move the dough into the pan by draping it over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters, then unfolding it into the pan. Press firmly into bottom and sides.
Before filling, freeze dough for 20 minutes (or refrigerate for 1 hour).
I’ve used this recipe before and knew it worked well. In order to get rid of those two tablespoons of sugar, I decided to use 2 tablespoons of unsweetened apple sauce instead. To account for the resulting extra moisture, I used only 1 tablespoon of the ice water instead of 3.
To bake the crust, I preheated the oven to 400. Then I pricked the crust all over with a fork and placed it in the oven for 10 minutes, until it was nicely browned. Then I let it cool.
Most berry tart filling recipes use sugar. I thought it wouldn’t be necessary to use any sugar if the berries were sweet enough. This season’s strawberries, it seems to me, have been unusually sweet. I decided to use mascarpone cheese mixed with a tablespoon of sugarless jam as a stand-in for the sugar. This is the recipe that resulted:
Strawberry Tart Filling
1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsweetened strawberry jam, divided
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled and sliced in 1/4” slices
Combine mascarpone cheese with 1 tablespoon of the strawberry jam. Spread over cooled crust. Top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of jam.
Arrange strawberries on top, in a single, slightly overlapping, layer.
The verdict: Sugar was totally unnecessary here. This simple tart was exceptionally delicious.