Holidays can sometimes be stressful at best. Our schedules are packed, everyone needs something from us and there seem to be both too many hours in a day and far too few. The days are filled with entertaining, drop-in guests and last minute requests to “bring a dessert”! Loving to cook doesn’t mean you always have the time to create magical desserts for entertaining. But this is one that is quick, easy and tastes like the sweetness and fun of the holidays!
Some of my favorite life experiences are from the time spent catering with my dear friend, Jane. We frequently catered cocktail parties and a constant theme we always included was a dessert table. Nothing complicated, but simple yet elegant bite size delights. This is one of my favorites recipes from our dessert tables. In the original recipe we used layers of buttered phyllo sheets to create the cups for holding all the goodness. With this month’s craziness it seemed to make sense to add a shortcut and use a standby I always keep in my freezer. Athens® “Mini Fillo Shells” are those wonderful small shells made from phyllo dough and all they need is a quick reheat in the oven.
The filling and topping of the tartlets creates the magic. Creamy mascarpone cheese is brightened with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest then topped with a compote made from the berry that so epitomizes the holidays. Then one last layer of taste and crunch from toasted hazelnuts!
The cranberry compote and the filling come together quickly and both can be made in advance then assembled the day you need them. Perfect for this busy time of year!
Heat up the mulled wine, call your friends and ring in the season!
Cranberry Mascarpone Tartlets
25 baked mini fillo shells
2 cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1-3/4 teaspoons lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts* or pecans
In a small saucepan combine the cranberries with ¾ cup sugar and water.
Heat over low until the sugar is dissolved then raise the heat to medium. Continue cooking until the berries begin to burst and the compote thickens. Set aside to cool or chill until ready to use.
In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese with the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest and the lemon juice, mixing until smooth. Chill until ready to use.
When you’re ready to assemble, add about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the mascarpone filling.
Top with a teaspoon of the cranberry compote….
then sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and serve!
*To toast hazelnuts, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until the skins begin to blister.
Pour the warm nuts into a dish towel and rub them together to remove any loose skins.
Don’t worry about getting all the skins off.
To preserve the freshness, freeze raw or toasted hazelnuts until ready to use.