Sour cherry season is much-anticipated in our house. The season here is very short 3 maybe 4 weeks. When I first see them at the market I buy in bulk, bring them home and have my friends over to have a pitting party (as opposed to a pity party;-). This way through out the year when I am in need of a sour cherry treat I can just reach into my freezer. If you are not as obsessed as I am about sour cherries and haven’t spent much time and effort buying them in season and pitting them you can always buy frozen sour cherries online at Friske’s Farm Market.
One of my all time favorite desserts to make is Apricot Tart (or plum or peach). The process of making this tart can be rather time-consuming, but always worth the effort. I love the flavor contrast of the intense and tart apricot juxtaposed to the sweet nutty frangipani. Swapping in sour cherries instead of Apricots to this recipe seemed to be a no brainer. I wrote about a sour cherry tart a while back, since then I have made an updated free form, easier version that uses puff pastry instead of a pâté brisé
I know you are thinking: easier? But it requires me to make puff pastry! First off, you can always buy frozen, tho I urge you to take this leap with me. This new recipe that I got from Melissa Clark is surprisingly straight forward and is more what I would call a rough puff and is really not that much move involved than regular pastry. If you don’t feel up to the challenge you can make a regular pâté brisé. Until recently I have avoided puff pastry, yes I know you can buy frozen, but when I bake I like everything to be made from scratch. So I was so psyched to see this very doable take on puff pastry. Give it a try, it freezes great and if you already have frozen sour cherries well this decadent tart is a great way to brighten up a grey January day.
Sour Cherry Puff Pastry Almond Tart
Cube 1/2 pound (2 sticks) of cultured butter (or regular is fine as well) and freeze.
In the bowl of a food processor add: 2 1/4 cups of All Purpose Flour and 1 teaspoon of Salt. Pulse briefly to blend. Add 1/4 cup of room temperature Butter (1/2 stick) and pulse to combine.
Add the frozen butter cubes.and pulse briefly twice.Add 1/3 cup of cold water and pulse again once briefly. Add another 1/3 cup of cold water and pulse again once briefly.At this point the dough is a mess. Dry bits, wet bits and large chunks of butter. Turn it all out onto a floured work surface. With your hands shape it into a rough rectangular log. Roll into a 6 x 9 inch rectangle about 1/2 ” thick.With a pastry scraper fold the top third of the dough down and the bottom third up.Turn 90 degrees and roll out again – flour the rolling-pin and the dough when needed. The large chunks of butter should stay through this process. Yes they will get somewhat integrated, but the bigger they stay the flakier the pastry.Repeat the process three or four times turning 90 degrees and folding every time. For the last fold take the top half into the middle and fold the bottom half to meet it in the middle like a book.Then fold this in half again. See that wasn’t so hard ;-)! Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or up to 3 days.
You will need 1 pound of Sour Cherries. If using frozen berries thaw in a colander over a bowl. Reserve the liquid for other uses (I drink it, its delicious!) If using fresh, pick over, pit and rinse.
While the dough is chilling place 1/2 cup of sliced Almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it has a flour like consistency. Place in the bowl of a standing mixer and add 2 ounce of Almond Paste. With a paddle attachment mix on medium low-speed until the Almond Paste has broken up 3-4 minutes. Add 1/3 cup of sugar, 5 Tablespoons of room temperature Butter, 1 large egg (also at room temperature) and 1 teaspoon of Almond Extract over medium speed mix until doubled in volume and has become a light creamy color 2-4 minutes.
Pre-Heat the oven to 425 F if you have a pizza stone place it on a shelf in the bottom third of your oven.
Take the chilled pastry out of the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface roll into a large disk, using the bottom of a 12-14″ round plate or the bottom of a tart pan to measure cut the circle and roll up the left over dough and use for another purpose (makes great cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar). Roll up the sides of the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches high. It seems no matter how high I make them the filling always spills out. Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and freeze for 30 minuets. Remove and dock all over with a fork.Whisk together 1 egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon of Heavy Cream brush over the entire surface.Pour in the almond filling and spread with a spatula.
Open the door of the oven after 15 minutes and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of Demerara, Turbinado or any other kind of raw sugar over the cherries. Return to the oven and bake until gold brown about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, best serve at room temperature.
Great with vanilla ice cream or unsweetened whip cream. Serve at room temperature.
You can easily swap the cherries out and use plums, apricots even peach slices!