Sometimes, the easier route is the more delicious one. In this Panna Cotta and Strawberry Tart, we combine a buttery pat-in-the-pan crust with a bright, lemon-scented panna cotta filling, stabilized with just a touch of gelatin to ensure a creamy, spoonable texture. Instead of boiling down fresh fruit to make a sauce, we finish the tart with a layer of Bonne Maman Strawberry Fruit Spread, which adds vibrant color and a tangy sweetness that complements the panna cotta. It’s like a lighter, brighter strawberry cheesecake that’s a little more elegant, and much easier to make.

Skip finicky pie dough in favor of a cookie-like crust

Too many people abandon fruit-filled pastries due to their frustrations with pie crust, which is a shame, because tarts are right there. Rolling and transferring pie dough to the tin (without tearing it) takes patience and precision, but tart shells ask much less of you.

If you have a food processor and the ability to exert downward force, you can make this crust.

Our cookie-like crust uses a combination of all-purpose flour and almond flour to give it a pleasantly sandy texture and deeper, nuttier flavor that highlights the sweetness of the fruit spread topping. It’s sweetened with sugar, flavored with almond and vanilla extracts, and held together by butter and egg. It’s also made completely in a food processor, so all you have to do is pulse, press, briefly freeze, and bake until golden brown.

A simple Italian custard doubles as an easy tart filling

Panna cotta is an Italian custard made with few ingredients. Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian, and that’s essentially what it is—cream (and/or milk) briefly warmed, flavored with sugar and vanilla, and set with powdered gelatin. The addition of gelatin makes it much less fussy than other custard desserts, and we add just enough to set the filling without rendering it too firm and jiggly. (For this reason, the tart is best served cold.)

Another wonderful thing about panna cotta is how riff-able it is. You can customize it with spices, extracts, and zests to take it any number of directions. While it may not be traditional, we enrich our panna cotta filling with tangy whole-milk yogurt and aromatic strips of lemon zest, which adds a decidedly cheesecake-like vibe that ties all the components of the dessert together.

Strawberry fruit spread adds intense flavor by the spoonful

I’m a huge fan of fruit spread-based desserts. You get the sweet, tangy goodness of homemade fruit fillings, without washing, peeling, or otherwise prepping the fruit. You don’t have to worry about a lackluster batch of berries or varying water contents or sugar levels, and there’s no cooking involved. Fruit spreads and preserves are a consistent, pre-concentrated product, the excess moisture already driven off.

Finishing the tart with Bonne Maman Strawberry Fruit Spread only further increases those cheesecake vibes. A little fresh grated lemon zest marries the spread with the filling and adds an elegant floral note. Unlike fresh fruit, fruit spreads are in season all year, so you can enjoy this dessert whenever the craving strikes.

Produced by Milk Street for Bonne Maman.

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