As spring awakens, I quit seeking out rich, warm, spicy treats and lean toward cool and clean. There’s nothing like an 88 degree day in May to make one reflect on their memories of the seasons, so something cool was definitely in order. Cherries were on special at the market yesterday, and I bought a couple of pounds. They were good on their own, but I wanted to make something sweet with them, so I decided to make a tart. This is the perfect dessert to showcase the fresh fruit and keep its flavor bright.
There’s a classic French dessert called clafoutis which I was tempted to steer toward. It’s crustless, more of a baked fruit pancake, which traditionally uses cherries. But it wasn’t grabbing me, and I kept pondering. Almonds sounded good, though my supply was low so I couldn’t make frangipane (almond paste, good in a baked crust with fruit). Also, frangipane sounded richer than I wanted. So I decided on an almond-enhanced crust filled with pastry cream and whole pitted cherries. There are several steps, but they don’t all have to be done at once. That said, it is best served the day it is baked, as the fruit will weep its juice. Testimonial: it’s still good the next day.
Notes from the chef:
- I used my nifty 11-inch bottomless, straight-sided tart pan. Its sides are an inch and a half tall. That’s a pretty big tart. You may not have one so large, so you may have leftover dough and filling. I will use my remaining dough to make cookies or something. Extra dough can be frozen for future use.
- Liqueurs are used to highlight flavors, not to make this boozy. They can be eliminated if desired. Investigate flavors and seasoning more in The Chopping Block’s upcoming Essential Building Blocks class.
- If you have a cherry pitter, use it. Otherwise I simply crush the cherry gently with the side of my knife and pull the pit out.
- The dough can be made up to three days in advance, or frozen for longer.
- The cream can be made a few days in advance as well.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Inactive time: 14 hours, 30 minutes
For the crust:
14 oz bread flour
5 1/2 oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 oz cool butter
2 oz almond meal
1. Sift dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
2. Beat the butter in until it is a mealy texture.
3. Mix in eggs until the dough comes together.
4. Mix in the almond meal.
5. Shape into a disk and refrigerate, preferably overnight but at least a few hours.
6. Roll the dough to 3/8 inch thickness. Line a tart pan, taking care not to stretch the dough. Chill the dough in the pan pan for 30+ minutes.
7. Put parchment on the dough and weigh down the crust, either with dry beans or neatly fitting pans.
8. Bake in a 325 degree convection oven for 20 minutes until the crust has dried out. Remove weight and parchment and bake for another 10 minutes until the edges are starting to turn golden.
For the pastry cream:
Makes: 3 1/2 cups
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup cherry juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon almond liqueur
1. Heat milk, juice and 2 Tablespoons sugar until almost bubbling.
2. Mix 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Beat in yolks.
3. Add one third of the hot liquid into the eggs, stirring. Add another half. Dump back into the pot of milk.
4. Heat this on a low heat, whisking, until it bubbles for 2 minutes. Shut off heat.
5. Add in butter, then the liqueur.
6. Place parchment or plastic right onto the top of the custard to minimize skin development. Cool for 30 minutes.
For the cherries:
1 1/2 pounds ripe cherries, or fewer if your pan is not as big
2 Tablespoons Maraschino liqueur
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Pit the cherries.
- Toss with liqueur and cornstarch.
To assemble and bake:
1. Spread a thin layer of cream on the bottom of the crust.
2. Distribute 3/4 of the cherries onto the cream.
3. Cover with more cream.
4. Top with some more cherries.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
6. Cool on the counter, then refrigerate for two hours before transferring to a plate and serving.
For an in-depth lesson making tarts and pies, join us for Hands-On Pie and Tart Boot Camp on Sunday, June 26 at 10am at Lincoln Square. You'll make:
- Perfect Pie Dough
- Blueberry-Lemon Hand Pies with Cream Cheese Dough
- Sweet Corn Quiche with Arugula, Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Salad
- Individual Chocolate Chess Pies with Whipped Cream and Salted Caramel
- Individual Spiced Plum Galettes