I am not a desperate housewife. This is something that I tell myself frequently and with a certain insistence of tone. Particularly on Mondays like this one, when I wake up to a basket of clean laundry containing no fewer than three instantiations of my desperate housewife summer uniform, the classically cut feminine sundress with the wily and disobedient built-in slip. At such times, I often wish that I had earned and discarded a structural engineering PhD rather than a law degree. Ninety minutes later, when I have detangled and folded all three sundresses while mentally crafting a carefully worded complaint to the dress manufacturer, I am once again thankful that it’s a JD I use to wipe the kitchen countertops. I amortize that sucker every way I know how. Except by actually practicing law.
Exhibit B submitted into evidence to support the contention that I am not a desperate housewife: When I handmade those little tartelettes with the strawberries and muscovado sugar for the teachers at the end of the school year, boxed them individually and tied the grosgrain ribbon around the tiny boxes, I really had to rush to get it all done, because I am super busy with my work all the time. See what I mean?
The point of this post, let’s say, is to gently remind you of a few key tenets of a busy working person’s life such as your own. First, berry season will not last forever. Don’t fritter it away in your cubicle, studio, mountain climbing harness, or toddler’s room. Second, you, too, can make, box, and even adorn with ribbon, individual tartelettes. They make terrific hostess or thank-you gifts that are just the right size to say, “I value your hard work,” “No need to share this with your family,” and “I care enough to nudge you in the direction of sweetness but not all the way to diabetes.” All that, and they really don’t take much longer than shopping for something less handmade and personal.
Still have strawberries left over? Try these other Umami Girl recipes:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Sweet and Savory Strawberry Bruschetta
- Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
- Strawberry-Vanilla Agua Fresca
- Dandelion Green, Strawberry, and Balsamic Onion Salad
Recipe: Strawberry Tartelettes with Muscovado Sugar
Summary: Makes 4 5-inch tartelettes. Crust adapted from the French Culinary Institute. Filling adapted from Bon Appetit July, 2001.
- For the pâte sucrée crust
- 200 grams (7 ounces) flour
- 30 grams (1 ounce) sugar
- 5 grams (.25 ounce) salt
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) butter, very cold
- 1 egg mixed with 10 milliliters (.33 ounce) water
- Ice water, as needed
- For the filling
- 4 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (gently packed) light muscovado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- About 32 small, ripe strawberries, stems removed
- Make the crust: Sift the flour, sugar and salt together into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse until the dough has a sandy texture, with no large lumps of butter. Add the egg and water mixture and pulse until the dough begins to form a ball. Add ice water by the teaspoonful, pulsing after each addition, if the dough is too dry to come together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide into four equal pieces, and shape into four small discs. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out and bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough discs one by one into 7-inch circles. Carefully press each circle into a 5-inch mini tart pan with a removable bottom. Place the pans on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Then prick the bottoms of the tart shells all over with a fork, line with parchment, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 10 minutes, until edges look chalky and white. Remove the parchment and beans, lower the oven to 350°F, and bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Cool completely.
- Make the filling and assemble the tarts: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and muscovado sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Spread 1/4 of the filling into each tart shell. Top with berries, cut sides down. Sprinkle lightly with muscovado sugar.
Special equipment: Four 5-inch tartelette pans with removable bottoms (or one 10-inch pan), Stand or electric mixer