My birthday is at the end of July – the perfect time for families to take their final vacation right before kids go back to school. As a child, I developed a slight fear about my birthday because the RSVP “sorry, out of town!” was frequently heard. Choosing who was invited was a huge ordeal for me. Not because I was acting out a Sweet Sixteen-worthy selection process, but because I didn’t want to waste an invitation on someone who wouldn’t be able to come.
For my ninth birthday, I had a pool party. This one – this, I was excited for. Pools are big, so everyone in my class could be invited. I had a stress free invitation process. I was excited. So excited.
And then, the week of the party, the first problem arose. I got swimmer’s ear. For a now 22-year old who stills curls into a ball and calls her mom when she gets even the slightest cold, acute pain constantly occurring in one ear would be a problem. So for an almost 9-year old, this was severe torture. In addition to the prescription eardrops, the doctor gave very strict instructions for the healing process: do not go swimming. After many tears and my mother’s explanations, the doctor said I was allowed to get in the pool, as long as I wore earplugs and never went in above my shoulders. Even a 4th grader knows earplugs are not cool. Nor is staying in the kiddie end of the pool.
Then, the morning of the party, the second problem occurred. My mom and I went to Baskin-Robbins to pick up my ice cream cake. A month before, I had carefully detailed to the cake makers how I wanted the cake to look. It was going to be a beautiful pool scene with lots and lots of chocolate ice cream involved. But when we got to Baskin-Robbins, the doors were locked and the lights were off. There was one cake sitting in the freezer display: mine. Everything else was emptied out. I pressed my face against the cool glass, staring at the cake across the room, a feeling of dread sweeping over my swimmer’s ear-infected ears and myself.
After many phone calls, my mom discovered that the Baskin-Robbins chain had shut down all stores in Alabama. Seriously. Every single store had been closed that week. And ours forgot to call us to let us know we should pick up my cake before they locked their doors for good.
My party went on. I played in the shallow end of the pool, as my friends rotated out who would stay with me. We cut the last cake that Winn-Dixie had on display that featured a summer scene. But I still hate both cakes and swimming. Maybe it’s the threat of an old memory of throbbing eardrums as I stare longingly through a display window, but I always opt for dry ground and other, less cakelike sweets. Like this.
Sweetened Mascarpone Tart with Fresh Fruit and Raspberry Sauce
From The Heritage Cook
1 frozen pie crust, cooked according to directions
¾ lbs mascarpone cheese
3 tbs powdered sugar
Up to ½ cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh fruit, cleaned, dried, and cut, if necessary
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jelly, melted over low heat
1 package frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
2 tbs sugar
juice of 1 lemon
In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine powdered sugar and mascarpone cheese. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary. By the tablespoon full, add heavy cream and combine until spoon. Be careful not to add too much, or the cheese will become too thin. It usually takes me 5-6 tablespoons to get the necessary smooth consistency.
Spread cream in the cooled pie pan. Arrange fruit on top, completely covering the mascarpone. Brush melted jelly on top, and cover everything, especially any exposed cheese. This keeps the tart fresh. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
In a food processor, combine the frozen raspberries and their syrup, the sugar, and the lemon juice. Place a very fine wire sieve over a bowl and pour the sauce through to remove all the seeds. Press liquid with the back of a ladle if necessary. Transfer to a jar or pitcher and serve with pie.