There are some people I really admire in this world. They are my role models, my inspirations, my guiding lights. In the realm of figure skating, I look up to the Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (I still can't get over the sheer joy and ecstasy of watching them win the 2010 Vancouver Olympics) since I'm an ice dancer myself. I also love the Russian pairs team Katerina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov...They are truly legendary, and Katerina's story in My Sergei is breathtaking.
But before I turned to ice dance, for many years I dedicated myself wholly to skating freestyle. My idols then were Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tara Lipinski, and Kim Yuna. In men's figure skating, I loved to watch Evan Lysacek, Evgeni Plushenko (despite his bad attitude), and of course -- the legendary Brian Boitano.
Which leads me to dessert.
Random-much? Not as much as you might think. Brian Boitano was not just perfection on ice. He also found a small stardom off ice otherwise known as his own cooking show on the Food Network! It's called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" Impressive huh?
The recipe that caught my eye was the Pear and Almond Crostata, and I was especially inspired by Monica, from Playing With Flour, who adapted the recipe to make Blueberry Crostata (Aside: Isn't it cool that we share the same name?). By now you all should know about my obsession with blueberries, so of course I was dying to try out this recipe.
A crostata is an Italian open fruit tart that has a crusted appearance, similar to the French galette. There are endless variations of both sweet and even savory crostatas. Sweet variations use fruit preserves like apricot, cherry, peach, nectarine, or berries. I didn't know this before, but apparently crostatas can also be blind-baked and then filled with pastry cream topped with fresh fruit. Yum.
It's honestly a very easy and pretty quick recipe, with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. The only thing I actually had to buy was the almond paste. Easy peasy.
Simply roll out the almond paste into circles, add a dollop of cream cheese filling, and drop some fresh blueberries on top. Just for the sake of extra clarity, I divided the recipe into sections so that it'll be easier to read when it comes to assembly. The result is a crisp, slightly browned crust with a pronounced almond flavor, and creamy filling topped with fresh juicy blueberries. Cheers!
Hope you enjoy!
First, you need almond paste that will compose the crust of the crostata. I used the canned version over the tube version because it has a more authentic flavor. Confession: I'd never worked with almond paste before, so I was a little nervous initially. I only knew that Panera's Bear Claws had a delicious almond paste filling, but I couldn't imagine that filling as the base and crust that would hold the entire crostata together.
Turns out I had no need to worry at all, because because the texture of the almond paste was perfect for rolling out into a crostata crust. It's very soft and malleable, though it can get a little sticky, so I placed it in between two pieces of parchment paper to roll it out into nice, round, flat circles. The circles don't need to be perfect because you'll be folding the edges over the blueberries later on.
Assemble the almond paste, cream cheese filling, and blueberries like so.
Fold the edges of the almond paste over the blueberry filling. The crust is very delicate, so use care.
Voila! Delicious Blueberry Crostata. I'm thinking it'll taste wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, no?
Click here for printable recipe of Blueberry Crostatas.
Sweet and crisp Italian open-fruit tart filled with fresh juicy blueberries.
Yield: 4 six-inch crostatas
Time: 45 minutes
For the crust:
7 ounces almond paste
Preparing the blueberries:
2 cups blueberries, washed and dried
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the filling:
1 1/2 teaspoon water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (coarse or raw sugar), for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
For the crust:
2. Divide the almond paste into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust work surface or a piece of parchment paper with flour. Working with one piece at a time, press the almond paste down with your palm to flatten. Lightly dust a rolling pin and roll almond paste out into a 6-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Set onto the prepared baking sheets.
Preparing the blueberries:
3. Toss the blueberries together with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch to combine. Set aside.
For the filling:
4. In a small bowl, crack the egg and beat lightly.
5. Transfer half of the beaten egg to another small bowl and mix in 1 1/2 teaspoon water to make an egg wash; set aside.
6. In a medium-size bowl, combine the remaining half of the beaten egg with cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla. Mix until all incorporated and smooth.
7. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese filling evenly onto the center of each circular almond paste crust, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around.
8. Place blueberries on top of the cream cheese filling of each crostata.
9. Fold the border of the almond paste crust over the edge of the berries, pressing down lightly where necessary to secure it in place. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the edges of the crostata with the egg wash. Then sprinkle each crostata with turbinado sugar.
10. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool & enjoy!