no bake berry tart

Is it still to hot to turn on the oven where you live? It certainly is in Toronto. We don't seem to be getting a break from the heat and humidity. The last thing you want to do on days like these is sweat over a dessert recipe in the kitchen. My answer - Fresh Berry Tart, that you don't have to bake. Honestly, this is my go-to recipe when summer swings around.

It consists of three layers: a cookie crumb base, a creamy mascarpone filling, and as many fresh berries as you can possibly squeeze on top. The whole thing takes maybe twenty minutes at most to make and will seriously have you and your friends pleading for more. It is a glorious combination of sweet, tangy berries and rich, creamy mascarpone cheese.

The recipe I use is an adaptation from Nigella Lawson's, How To Be a Domestic Goddess cookbook. She calls for blackberries and white currants on her tart but I usually end up using a combination of blueberries, raspberries, and whatever other berry is in season. I've also noticed that the American version of her cookbook calls for graham crackers for the base while the British version calls for digestive biscuits. In my mind, the two are very different. Digestive cookies have a much crumbier texture and are more buttery. I think their flavour works much better with the mascarpone filling.

Can you buy digestive biscuits in the States? For some reason, I don't think you can. I seem to recall sending down boxes of digestives to one of my Canadian friends who moved Stateside. I wonder why that is? I just find the graham cracker crust so ubiquitous and after the cheesecake craze of the eighties I can't bring myself to eat much of it anymore.

Here's how to make this amazingly delicious and super simple summer dessert. I honestly can't think of a better way to savour the beauty and sweetness of summer berries.

No Bake Fresh Berry Tart

(adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson - Black and White Tart)

Serves 8

For the base:

250g digestives

75g butter, melted

25 cm fluted flan tin or 9 inch pie dish

For the filling:

1 large egg, separated

75g caster sugar

500g mascarpone

squeeze of lime or lemon (to taste)

600-800g of mixed berries (2-3 pints)

Put the cookies in the processor and blitz to crumbs. Then, motor running, add the melted butter down the funnel. Tip into the flan case or pie dish and using your fingers press onto the base and up the sides. Put in the fridge while you get on with the creamy filling.

Whisk the egg white until stiff but not dry and set aside for a moment. Beat the egg yolk with the sugar until thick and pale: you may think there's too much sugar to make a paste but persist: it happens. Add the mascarpone, beating till smooth, then the lime or lemon juice. Fold in the egg white and pile and smooth this mixture into the prepared flan case or pie dish.

Arrange the fruit on top.