Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cherry Amaretto Tart

If cream cheese had a superhero it would be marscapone cheese.  There are so many wonderful flavor highlights here - fresh cherries, glazed cherries, shortbread cookie crust, with rich amaretto to tie it all together.  This is a dessert for after the little ones go to bed, that's for sure.  I just saw today that fresh cherries are coming to the local farmers market this weekend so it's time to post one of my favorite desserts.  I look forward to cherry season for THIS:

Cherry Amaretto Tart with Shortbread Crust

I discovered this recipe on Serious Eats (one of my favorite food blogs) and knew I had to try it.  Yes it's a heck of a lot of work to halve and pit this many fresh cherries, but it is SO GOOD. When I first made it I told my husband that the flavor was too strong and I didn't think I liked it, and put it in the fridge overnight.  I then proceeded to eat most of the tart myself and I think he got a piece or two.  I'm not generally a person who enjoys liquor but with the cherries it's good enough to make me want to randomly capitalize letters, and those who know me know I don't do that lightly. 

Last year I didn't have amaretto and of course all the Utah liquor stores are closed on Sundays when I had the time set aside to make it, so I used Frangelico instead (a hazelnut liquor) - this was not sweet enough and if I did it again I'd at least double the sugar, but the amaretto is a much better flavor match. If cherries are out of season, the recipe creator suggested pears which also sounds delicious and I'll be adding that to my future to-cook list.

The biggest trick to this - and maybe it isn't so much a trick as a reminder to myself and anyone who cooks like I do - is to have all of the ingredients prepared beforehand.  I tend to get halfway through a recipe before noticing that I don't have all the ingredients and that's especially frustrating when there isn't even a place to go buy them.  The recipe itself is pretty straightforward despite using ingredients I wasn't terribly familiar with.  Consider it a grocery store treasure hunt! 

For an extra food adventure (and to save some money) you can make the marscapone cheese too!  I haven't done this yet but have seen it on Pinterest several times.  Here is a good link with detailed instructions: Cheesemaking.com - Marscapone Cheese.  I'll probably do this next time so I can avoid driving to four separate stores to find the stuff.  The one that had it?  WinCo.  They have a surprisingly good cheese section; kudos to the WinCo cheesemonger!

Cherry Tart with shortbread crust

Cherry Amaretto Tart

10" round tart pan with removable bottom
Grinder for almonds

        2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs (See Note)
        6 tablespoons light brown sugar (divided 4 Tbsp + 2Tbsp)
        1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
        3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
        1/2 teaspoon salt (divided 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
        1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
        3/4 cup Amaretto liqueur (divided 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
        1/4 cup white granulated sugar
        2 tablespoons water
        1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
        2 cups mascarpone cheese
        1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

NOTE: I used Lorna Doone shortbread cookies and crushed them with a heavy rolling pin. I get two boxes and I'm pretty sure some are leftover but I eat them so I don't know how many.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In medium bowl, combine shortbread crumbs, 4 Tbsp brown sugar, almonds, butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Press into bottom and up sides of tart pan. Bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 3/4 cup cherries, 1/2 cup Amaretto, white sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add remaining fresh cherries and toss to coat. Set aside.
4. Combine water and gelatin in small bowl. Microwave until gelatin dissolves, about 20 seconds. Cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
5. In medium bowl, whisk together mascarpone, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, remaining 1/4 cup Amaretto, vanilla, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cooled gelatin mixture until smooth.
6. Spread mascarpone mixture in cooled tart shell and top with cherry mixture.
7. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving or removing the pan ring (see below).
8. Share.  At least one piece, so people will believe you when you tell them how amazing it was and why only two pieces made it to the potluck.

Here's another photo for good measure!  This is the reason for the tart pan having a removable bottom, so it can still sit on the solid metal bottom and have the beautiful crust showing and make it much easier to cut.  Just put your hand on the bottom (after it's completely cool of course) and very gently, nudge the metal ring away from the crust until it drops down onto your elbow, then set the tart down on a decorative plate with the pan bottom still underneath it.  Then go wash your elbow, it's sticky.  :)

Cherry Amaretto Tart... because it's so darn pretty.

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