Cherries were prized by ancient Chinese royalty and the wealthy. Besides the fruit, cherry wood was believed to ward off evil spirits—even today, Chinese families place cherry branches over their doors on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. Statues carved from the wood stand guard at the front of homes.
Romans introduced sweet cherries to Britain in the first century A.D. It wasn’t until the 1600s that the English colonists brought them to North America. Today, there are more than 1,000 varieties in the U.S. but fewer than 10 are commercially produced.
There are 430 species in the genus Prunus, which includes cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and almonds. This makes almonds (Prunus dulcis) a natural complimentary flavor to cherries (Prunus cerasifera), plums (Prunus silicon), peaches (Prunus persicv), or apricots (Prunus armeniaca).
For this easy-to-make tart, I combined cherries and almonds—and to enhance the matchmaking ability, I added almond paste to the cocoa crust.
- 1 tablespoon Heering (cherry liquor), brandy or rum
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 3-1/2 ounces almond paste, grated
- 6 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, cold
- 1/4 cup (1 ounces) dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purposed flour
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon ice water
ALMOND CREAM FILLING
- 3-1/2 oz almond paste, grated
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1-1/34 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, room temperature
1. Combine liquor, cornstarch and vanilla in a small bowl, stir to fully combine, set aside.
2. Reserve 1/2 cup of cherries (optional for garnish) and stem and pit the rest (or all) of the cherries. Combine pitted cherries, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until cherries are softened but still holds their shape, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in liquor/cornstarch mixture and cook until liquid had slightly thickened. Remove from heat and pour compote into a bowl, cool completely. (Liquid will further thicken as the compote cools)
Note: The cherry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
1. Process cocoa, flour, sugar and salt together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add grated almond paste and butter, pulse until butter/almond paste are size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.
2.Add egg mixture and pulse until the dough barely comes together. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, add another teaspoon of water if necessary, pulsing until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten into a 4-inch disk; wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 30 minutes, before rolling.
4. Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap dough and roll between two sheets of plastic wrap into an approximate 11-inch round.
5. Lay the dough over the tart pan and gently press into sides. Remove excess dough with small pairing knife. Freeze for 10 minutes.
6. Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375℉.
ALMOND CREAM FILLING
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat almond paste, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed until almost smooth and fully combined. (it’s OK to have a few small pieces of almond paste).
2. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until combined. Remove prepared tart crust from freezer and pour the filling into the crust.
3. Bake until filling is firm, about 20-22 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely, about one hour.
1. When ready to serve, top tart with cherry compote and decorate with reserved fresh cherries (if use).