Find out what's been happening in the world of 42 Burners, aka our test kitchen, with our weekly series.
Have you tried gooseberries yet? They’re those thin-skinned red or green berries that you see at the farmers’ market in the summer before getting distracted by the other fruit. It’s always strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries that get the glory this time of year. Even its cousin the currant receives more attention than the gooseberry. It’s fitting, then, that the word gooseberry also refers to a third wheel, because that describes its standing in the berry category perfectly—gooseberries are never included in a mixed-berry dessert. But that doesn’t mean they don't deserve a starring role!
Enter food director Sarah Carey. Inspired by Martha’s berry garden (of course she’s been growing gooseberries for years), Sarah developed a tart recipe that puts gooseberries front and center. Flaky, butter-rich pâte sucrée (sweet piecrust) is filled with a combination of red and green gooseberries and baked until beautifully burnished. The filling is then brushed with jelly (Sarah likes currant, or for a sweeter tart, apricot) to give the fruit a glossy sheen.
As part of our triple-testing process, recipe tester Riley Wofford baked the tart two more times. Her top tips: Adjust the amount of sugar depending on the type and ratio of gooseberries you use—green are more sour than red. And if you’re in a rush, skip trimming—the little stems dissolve during baking. Senior editor Lauryn Tyrell pronounced the tart “perfect for people who don’t love really sweet desserts. It’s bracingly sour but still has a little bit of sweetness.” She just happens to be one of those people and appreciated the bright-tasting, almost lemony gooseberry filling. Riley added that the tart is a “conversation piece. Your guests will definitely be asking you what it is when you serve it.”
It certainly sparked a conversation in the test kitchen, about the 42 Burners team’s experience with gooseberries, which ran the gamut. Sarah likes using them for preserving—gooseberries are high in pectin, which jams and jellies need to set—or for a refreshing summer sorbet. Riley ate them a lot as a kid because her grandmother was a fan.
Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph keeps a stash of gooseberries in the freezer for snacking—like frozen grapes but more tart! Assistant editor Lindsay Strand admitted that she’s never so much as touched a gooseberry, while senior digital editor Victoria Spencer has some not-so-fond memories of eating gooseberry crumbles at school in Scotland. Lauryn was introduced to gooseberries by a British friend, who unlike Victoria, loved them in desserts growing up. For the uninitiated, Lauryn recommends treating gooseberries like rhubarb. She’s looking forward to snapping up the last gooseberries of the season and substituting them for rhubarb in a savory chutney. Another conversation piece for another day in the test kitchen!