Easter was a glorious day filled with sunshine, beautiful music, and a church decorated with blossoming Spring flowers. The sights and sounds were full of joy and praise, and I felt renewed both in body and spirit – transported to another world that I don’t frequent often enough!
The Sisters celebrated this Easter with a beautiful buffet, many pitching in by making their favorite dish. I signed up to make dessert. I’ve always wanted to try making homemade mascarpone cheese, and since we have three cows that give us a never ending supply of milk and cream, what a great time to try it out. It was delicious! This dessert is perfect for Springtime – a shortbread almond crust filled with sweet and tart lemony cream, and a blend of berries on top – the perfect end to our Easter celebration.
Mix the all purpose flour, almond flour, kosher salt and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the unsalted butter pieces and work into the flour, creating thin sheets of butter in the flour. Mix the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and add to the flour and butter mix. Continue to work with your fingers until the mixture sticks together when pinched. Add another tablespoon of water if needed.
Press the dough into a buttered tart pan with a removable bottom (I used a long tart pan but you can use a 10-inch round pan) or 4-6 individual tart pans with removable bottoms. Prick the bottom with a fork and then refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the tart for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling with mascarpone filling.
For the mascarpone filling
Whip the cream on high with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the softened mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar and beat to mix well. Fold in the lemon curd with a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, mix the raspberries and sliced strawberries. Heat the strawberry preserves until thinned and mix into the berries. Spoon the mascarpone into the cooled tart crust and top with the berries. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.
Sitting in the refectory with my early morning coffee, I watched a young Sister stirring up something in the baking area of the kitchen. I speculated that she was making a treat of some sort to take to the office since she works at Paraclete Press, the Community’s publishing house. It was not out of the ordinary for this to be happening especially at this time of year. Homemade goodies are known to increase production as well as good spirits in the workplace so it was no surprise to see her doing this. What was a surprise was finding a little plate of Jan Hagel cookies on my desk after returning from church.
As I savored each bite of the crisp buttery delicacies, I asked myself “Why have you not ever made these yourself”? Almost every year someone I know has made these traditional Dutch shortbread cookies and I have enjoyed them at their hands, but have never made them myself. These are the perfect treat to have with a cup of tea with holiday guests and to send home with them as a simple holiday remembrance. I set about to whip up a batch….simple, quick, easy and satisfying. I suggest you consider doing the same. You’ll be glad you did!
Countless stories surround the origin and the history of hot cross buns. Suffice it to say they are eaten as a simple little sweet during Lent after weeks of abstinence and looking towards the crucifixion. It is our tradition to serve them here at the Community of Jesus every Good Friday.
There is one little saying about them that I particularly like. It is said that a bun baked on Good Friday and hung in one’s kitchen will guarantee the success of all baked goods prepared in that kitchen. Worth a try?