I went to a high school with an honor code. Our teachers would leave the room during exams, trusting that since we had signed the honor code, there would be “no lying, stealing, cheating, or plagiarism.” We sometimes even chatted with one another during exams, knowing that whatever topics we discussed would not be related to the test we were taking.
So, I come to you today, my head hung low, to confess that I sometimes — no I often — cheat in the kitchen. I use pre-minced garlic. I use margarine a lot (for parve desserts). My biggest shortcut though is that I sometimes use lemon juice instead of fresh lemons. Even when a recipe has this citrus component as its main ingredient. A little squirt in a stir-fry when a lemon is not to be found– not such a big deal. But, I have done it for lemon bars. Yes, lemon bars. Where the main flavoring is lemon.
And, here I present to you my latest and greatest cheat – a bastardization of a beautiful recipe for lemon mascarpone blondies with a few modifications, including the use of bottled lemon juice in lieu of freshly squeezed lemons and their zest. But, I have to tell you, this must be one kick-ass recipe because despite my cheating, it rocked.
This lemon mascarpone “tart” tastes like a lemon bar whose lemony top and cookie bottom merge into one. It is rich and decadent without being overly sweet. That being said, it was not overly citrusy either — perhaps the downside to cheating with jarred lemon juice. I imagine one could play up the tart part of it a bit more by making a chocolate crust of sorts, even using a thin layer of brownie base if you like the combination of lemon, made rich with mascarpone, and chocolate.
Cheating Lemon Mascarpone Tart
I found this wonderful recipe for Lemon Mascarpone Blondies developed by Garret McCord and posted on Simply Recipes. Rather than using lemons, I was going to use limes because I had brought back some key limes from my recent trip to Miami, but having made some “caiparina mojitos” with them at a picnic last week, I didn’t think I could bear to juice the 2 dozen I would probably need to get 2 T of juice. But I did have some Goya lemon juice in my fridge. I didn’t have an 8X8 pan to bake the blondies in, but my 10-inch solid bottom tart pan worked nicely and made the blondies look fancy though a bit flat.
I made the batter by hand because my Kitchen Aid is parve, and this is very easy to make the “old-fashioned way.” It took less than 15 minutes to make the batter. This could be a great holiday recipe for those who are observant during the upcoming Rosh Hashanah.
Serves 8-10 and best eaten chilled.
- 1/2 C butter, melted
- 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 t vanilla
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese (I used Vermont Butter & Cheese brand – Kof-K)
- 2 T Lemon juice (I used Goya brand lemon juice in a bottle; original recipe calls for 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice)
- 2 1/2 t lemon zest (I left this out)
- 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/8 t of baking soda
- Pinch salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1 C all-purpose flour
Bring mascarpone to room temperature for ~15 minutes while preparing other ingredients so it will be easier to work with later on.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour pan (8X8 pan or 10-inch solid bottom tart pan).
Melt butter in saucepan or microwave. As someone who often substitutes margarine, I have to tell you that the smell of the melting butter was absolutely heavenly. I might be converted to a more frequent butter user.
Pour melted butter into large mixing bowl and mix in sugar with whisk. Then add egg and vanilla and continue to whisk. Add mascarpone, juice (and zest if using) and switch to a spatula for mixing. Finally add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour, continuing to use spatula for final mixing.
When all ingredients are incorporated, the batter will be pretty pourable. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and without clinging crumbs, and the blondies start to pull away from the edge of the pan. In my oven, this took a full 30 minutes even though my tart was a bit thinner than an 8X8 square would be.
I suggest chilling before serving. It makes the tart easier to slice, less crumbly, and more dense.
(I tried to candy a few thin lime slices to decorate the top, but unfortunately they didn’t taste very good (thought they looked pretty). This wasn’t worth the effort and I wouldn’t do it next time.)