When I decided to enter, I came up with a shortlist of things to make. My first thought was Beeramisu using a coffee porter (specifically, Sixpoint’s Gorilla Warfare, which is SO GOOD) instead of Marsala + espresso, but, unfortunately, I was too late, as the organizers of the event informed me that someone else had already entered it. (And Johnny Iuzzini, who is one of my favorite pastry chefs, deemed it the best dessert. Note to self: stop procrastinating.) I am, however, undeterred, and plan on making this at some point in the future using the original tiramisu recipe, which, as I mentioned last fall, was created in Baltimore.
My next thought was a pineapple-tripel beer sorbet, but I was afraid that it would 1) melt on the way over, and 2) probably melt while at the event because 4 hours on ice isn’t going to keep sorbet icy enough. I’m still planning on making this at some point this summer, so keep your eyes peeled for it.
I finally settled on something inspired by my blueberry-loving fiancé: the aforementioned ultra blueberry ricotta tarts.
• Lemon and wheat beer pastry crust (Sixpoint Eight Days O’ Wheat)
• Baked blueberries
• Blueberry honey-sweetened fresh ricotta
• Glaze of blueberry honey and blonde ale wort (Sixpoint Sweet Action)
• Shard of blueberry paper
Since most people don’t have access to wort, I’m leaving out the recipe for the glaze. And I’ll get to the blueberry paper recipe another day. The tart is still wonderful without these two additions.
Blueberry Ricotta Tart
makes one 11” tart
For the crust
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
¼ cup wheat beer
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1 ½ cups fresh ricotta (I used homemade for the trial run but for the larger batch for the beer cook-off, I used a 50-50 mix of whole milk and part skim ricotta made by the wonderful New Haven company Calabro)
3 tablespoons blueberry honey (or any other honey)
2 eggs, separated
3 drops lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 pint blueberries
***************Make the crust
Cut the butter into small cubes and freeze for 10 minutes. At the same time, put the beer in a small bowl and into the freezer.
In the meantime, add the flour, sugar, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
After the butter is chilled, add it to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using either a pastry blender or your cold fingertips (dip your hands into ice water to keep them cold). Stop when the mixture resembles coarse crumbs but there are still some pea-sized chunks of butter remaining.
Add 3 tablespoons of beer and toss the mixture with a fork until it just comes together. Pick up a small handful and press it together into a clump – if it stays in a clump, you’re all set, but if it’s crumbly, add a teaspoon of beer at a time until the dough just holds together.
Divide the dough into 4 portions. For each one, place it on a lightly floured counter and smear the dough forward with the palm of your hand. Bring all four portions together and form into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Before rolling out the dough, let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Heat oven to 375 and set a rack in the middle of the oven.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13-14” circle. Transfer to an 11” tart pan with a removable bottom. (My method for doing so: lightly flour the surface of the rolled-out dough. Fold the dough in half, lightly flour the top surface, and fold in half again. Pick this up, transfer it to the pan so that the point is in the center, then gently unfold the dough.) Lift the edges of the dough and let it fall into the edges of the pan, then gently press into the edges and onto the sides. Do not stretch the dough – it will shrink when you bake it. Place the crust in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
After removing the crust from the freezer, place a large piece of foil on top of the dough and press it up the sides (make sure there is enough for an overhand). Fill the foil with rice, beans, or pie weights (I use rice and reuse it for the same purpose until it starts to get seriously burnt – I find that it holds down the crust better than larger items such as beans or pie weights and it’s pretty cheap).
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the crust from the oven and set on a rack. Carefully remove the foil + weights. Return the crust to the oven and bake until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Let the crust cool fully before filling.
Make the filling
In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, honey, egg yolks, and salt. Set aside.
Add the egg whites and lemon juice to another bowl and whip until the whites hold medium peaks. Fold ½ cup of the ricotta mixture into the egg whites, then add all of the egg white mixture to the ricotta mixture and gently fold to combine.
Assemble the tart
Wash and dry the berries. Evenly distribute the berries in the crust. Pour the ricotta filling on top and evenly distribute and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake at 375 until the top is just barely golden, 25-30 minutes.
Let the tart cool on a rack at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.