Oh, Valentine’s Day. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a really crappy Valentines Day and it kind of makes me feel queasy. There are the ladies who compare who got better flowers/dinners and for all the men out there who have so much pressure to either select a great restaurant, make some phenomenal meal, and/or pick a stunning “thoughtful” gift.
Well, wanna hear my cringe worthy Valentine’s Day story? Whether or not, too bad. I purchased tickets for a guy that I was dating for a gondola cruise by Cali’s Newport Beach back when I was living in LA/OC and… he basically broke up with me days before via phone. I called immediately requesting for a refund and they apologized, explaining to me that because they have too many sob stories of people breaking up, they couldn’t refund me – and I ended up taking my aunt on the gondola ride with me instead. Did she know? Yes. and was it awkward? Yes; Just imagine the gondola singer having to change his list of songs to be family friendly last minute.
One of the best Valentines Day gifts/nights I had was with my first “real” boyfriend, A, back when I was in USC’s School of Architecture. He knew that I was feeling particularly crappy and overwhelmed because of a family crisis. Although A was a romantic, he knew it would bother me if he splurged and/or showered me with roses (Almost all my friends know I only like roses if the petals are edible) So he did something creative for me: He bought a bottle of pink champagne, made me some dinner, and invited me over to just watch a Star Wars marathon with him on his couch in Webb Tower (all you USC folks know that lovely on-campus housing that I’m talking about 😉 )
Now, fast forward to February 2019.
I am more than grateful that O remembers Valentine’s Day is coming up and asked me what we should do, because he hadn’t grown with many American holidays. I am so proud of him for making a squid ink pasta feast with me, binge watching Game of Thrones with me and suggest we go to the aquarium (no zoo because it’s too cold here in NYC) Cheers to new memories and ways to revive love all over the world.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a wire whisk, mix the mochiko, coconut milk, water, sugar, vanilla, and baking powder together in a large bowl until well blended.
Divide the mochi batter into 2 bowls. One bowl will be used for the chocolate layer, the other for the strawberry swirled with vanilla layer.
Add the sifted cocoa powder into the bowl that will be the chocolate mochi batter. Mix in well.
Spray the baking pan with an even spray of non-stick spray.
Pour the cocoa batter mixture into the pan and gently shake the pan to even it out. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until set.*
When the cocoa layer has set, pour the vanilla portion over the cocoa layer and slightly shake it to even out the layer. Cover it loosely with foil and bake for another 20 minutes until lightly set.
When the vanilla layer has set, drop a few dollops of strawberry syrup over the batter and swirl it with a butter knife to create a marbled effect.
Bake the cake for about 10 more minutes or until it is fully set.
Carefully remove the baked mochi from the oven, and place it on a cooking rack to cool completely. When it’s completely cooled, slide a lightly greased knife between the edge of the cake and slice into desired size of cubes or rectangles. Enjoy!
Chef’s note: Strawberry syrups like Torani are recommended. As a substitute, strawberry syrups can be substituted.
I’m not sure how to tell you guys how heavenly and fun this strawberry tart was to make and how delicious it was at every step of the making and especially at the end. I’ve always been nervous preparing dough because of my huge fails with croissants and pretzels (sorry no fails page up yet) but this pie crust recipe was a sure keeper after reading all the tips. If you’d like to prepare the same flaky buttery crust that I had, I’d advise you to chill the butter in the freezer for at least 10-15 minutes, use a very sharp knife to chop it up, and use cold water. To chill the water, put the water in the freezer for a few minutes until ready to use. Seriously, kneading and rolling the dough in my hands felt like I was getting my hands massaged.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Remove the excess.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Remove any excess with scissors or a knife.
Prick the crust a few times with a fork and add a few pie weights to secure the pie crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Allow it to cool to touch before assembling the pie or tart.
Did you also know that strawberries and balsamic vinegar complement each other PERFECTLY? I can’t express how much I love pairing them together. You can read more about balsamic vinegar and how to use it here.
I added this creamy soft citrus mascarpone filling underneath to enhance the fusion of the two even more and to celebrate the refreshing flavors of spring (and soon, summer) I was a bit worried if all of these flavors are too much, but my cousin, who’s a huge foodie and came back to visit us from Seattle – LOVED IT. My mom shrugged me off for getting a bit carried away all morning preparing the pie crust and making a (little) mess in the kitchen…but my cousin, uncle, aunt, and mom loved it so much at our family gathering, that even though they were full, they each plated themselves with another slice. I not only had a whole family’s stamp of approval for this, but my coworkers who had my second tart loved it that they complimented me while I was working at my desk. I’m so thankful that I have this glorious tart recipe for my gatherings. It’s been a kickass week, really. And I’m ordering my apron for my film gig with AutoCAD. Life is pretty rad right now. Thank you friends for all that love and support!
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mascarpone, sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about a minute, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Scrape filling into cooled crust, smoothing it evenly to the edges with a spoon.
Wash the strawberries, slice them into desired thicknesses, and carefully mix them into the sugar. Let them soak for about 10 minutes.
If you don’t have balsamic glaze, pour 1/4 C balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until thick and syrupy, about 4 minutes; it should still swirl in the pan. If too thick, simply add another teaspoon of balsamic, stir, and remove from the heat.
Assemble the tart by spreading the citrus mascarpone cream evenly throughout the (cooled) tart. Evenly spread the strawberries evenly over as layers, then drizzle the balsamic glaze over and serve.