Back in the Saddle Again (Roasted Cherry Chocolate Tart)
My apologies for the radio silence. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I, for one, am still recovering from what will go down in history as the most epic of all Smitten Kitchen days, the one during which Emily and I learned our cooking limits by far surpassing them and cooking into the not-so-wee hours of the morning. Had I not fallen asleep precisely when I did, the sun would’ve risen before I got to sleep. It was a little ridiculous, and I think we’ll both exercise a little more menu-restraint next time, but we can hardly be blamed for our eager addition of dishes to the menu. We had not cooked together since August, and I think we’re still not used to this whole “twice a year” version of our cooking extravaganzas.
Now that I’ve recovered a bit, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite dishes we cooked, which I’ve already duplicated in my own kitchen. It’s a roasted cherry and whipped cream tart with a chocolate crust. We knew we were exhausted because when we ate our “dinner” at approximately 4:30 in the morning, we didn’t want to bother with cutting and serving it. That’s okay, because it made a phenomenal breakfast. Light, airy, but indulgent and heavenly all the same–the roasted cherries taste like grown-up maraschino cherries. Next time I’m visiting my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister, I want to make this for my stepdad–it tastes a lot like one of his favorite ice cream flavors (cherry with chocolate chips, I can’t remember the formal title).
The best part is that you could use this method of roasting cherries for almost any purpose. I can’t wait to try to use these cherries to make other kinds of tarts, or scones, or even cookies. I guess I’d better hurry, as cherry season is tragically coming to a close. I can’t think about that, I’ll think about it tomorrow, Scarlett O’Hara style. Today, I’m thinking only about this tart and how much I need to tell you how to make it so you can go out, buy cherries while you still can, and treat yourself to this deliciousness.
Oh, and the second best part? Roasting the cherries releases a decent amount of cherry juice that you won’t want to dump in your tart, or it will get soggy. Instead of making a soggy tart, you can make a simple syrup with the juice (instructions included below), and use some of it to decorate the tart. You can keep the leftovers in your fridge and flavor drinks–both alcoholic and non–with it. It’d be a great way to spice up a Sprite or 7-Up, and later this week, I’ll share an adult beverage recipe that takes advantage of this yummy syrup.
Roasted Cherry Chocolate Tart
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
- egg yolk from 1 large egg
- 1 TBSP heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
- 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 TBSP cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (1/2 inch cubes is ideal, but cutting it into 16 pieces should work just fine)
- 4 cups Bing cherries, pitted and halved (measure before pitting and halving)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 TBSP confectioners’ sugar
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Melted chocolate
- Cherry simple syrup (recipe below)
First, make the shell. Mix the vanilla extract, egg yolk, and cream together in a small bowl. Set aside. Place the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, confectioners’ sugar, and salt) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse three times, or until the dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add the cubes of butter and pulse 10 – 16 times, or until the largest pieces of butter in the mixture are as small as peas. Pour in the egg, vanilla, and cream mixture and process for 12 seconds. At this point, the mixture should have just come completely together; the dough will stay together when you take a handful and make a ball. If the dough has not reached this stage, pulse until it comes together completely. (Fun fact: When we made the tart together, I forgot the confectioner’s sugar completely, added it later, and didn’t have much of a problem doing so). Remove the blade from the food processor. Try to bring all of the dough together with your hands as best you can before turning the dough over onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Form a disc approximately six inches across. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Dough will keep well in the fridge for up to 48 hours, but if you refrigerate the dough for longer to an hour, let it set out on the counter for about 20 to 30 minutes before rolling it out.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Put the disc of dough in between two large sheets of wax paper. Roll the dough out into a thin circle approximately 13 inches in diameter. Depending on the width of your wax paper, you may need to add additional pieces of wax paper to the sides of each large sheet in order to have enough surface area to work with. (You could also roll the dough out on a very, very lightly floured surface, but I found this so frustrating both times I rolled out the dough that I finally adopted the wax paper method. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I have dry hands, and it makes working with most doughs a pain in the butt. If you are not plagued with this problem, you may have better luck with rolling the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface.)
Remove the top layer of the wax paper. Working carefully, transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan–suspend the dough above the pan, then very quickly flip it over. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and the pan’s sides, patching as necessary. Trim the tops and discard (or flout raw-egg-safety and munch on the trimmings). Place the pan on a freezer-safe plate and freeze for half an hour. While the dough is freezing, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the tart pan from the freezer and place the pan on a cookie sheet–this makes it easier to remove the tart pan from the oven later. Stretch a large sheet of foil over the tart pan and press it down into the pan gently. Fill with pie weights, dried beans, or the contents of your change jar. Bake for thirty minutes on the middle rack of the oven, then carefully remove the foil and pie weights/beans/coins from the pan. Continue baking the tart shell for another five to ten minutes. Annie’s recipe says the tart should be a dark golden brown, but I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like for a chocolate tart shell. I just removed it when it looked to my eyes like it was about to burn soon if I didn’t remove it.
Remove the pan from the oven and set the pan on a cooling rack. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
While the shell is cooking, pit and halve the cherries. Pour the cherries into a large glass baking dish. Mix in the 1/4 cup of sugar, tossing the cherries until they are all thoroughly coated with the sugar.
When the oven has reached 450 degrees, place the glass dish with the cherries on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for ten minutes. The cherries should be juicy, softened, and fragrant, and they should have no trace of the granulated sugar (except when you take a bite and taste the sweetness! Which you should do as soon as they’re cool). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a wide bowl and let them cool. Pour the juice that remains in the dish into a glass measuring cup with a fine-mesh strainer set on top of it. Discard anything left in the strainer. At this time, you can make the simple syrup (recipe below).
Note: You can roast the cherries in advance, but they will absorb more of the juice and be a bit less crispy–for lack of a better word.
While the cherries and tart shell are cooling, place the cup of cream and the 3 TBSP of confectioners’ sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer. Using a chilled whisk attachment, whip until the cream has reached the stiff-peaks stage. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and blend well at a low-speed. If the tart shell and cherries are not yet cool, cover the whipped cream with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
When everything is cool, assemble the tart. Pour 2/3 of the cherries into a single layer covering the bottom of the tart shell. Add a few more cherries if necessary to mostly cover the bottom of the shell. Put dollops of the whipped cream on top of the cherries in five or six places, then spread the whipped cream into an even layer on top of the cherries. Top with the remaining cherries, spacing decoratively if desired or randomly if you’re tired or don’t really care. If you want, top with splatters of the cherry simple syrup and/or melted chocolate. If using the melted chocolate option, melt high-quality chocolate in a double boiler, because – in my experience – chocolate chips do not get thin enough when they melt to splatter effectively.
Cherry Simple Syrup
An Em and Am Original
- Cherry juice from roasting cherries (above; approximately 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar (or whatever amount of sugar will equal the cherry juice produced)
- Dash of vodka (optional)
Whisk the cherry juice and sugar together in a small saucepot. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to prevent sugar from burning. Reduce heat to low and simmer for three to five minutes. Sugar should be completely dissolved. Let stand at room temperature for at least half an hour. Syrup will thicken significantly upon standing. Store in the fridge, with a little bit of decent, flavorless vodka to preserve it longer if you wish.
I’ve read that even without vodka as a preservative, simple syrups should last about a month in the fridge, but I make no promises! Keep in the coldest part of your fridge if you don’t plan to use it soon.
(Also, many apologies to anyone who came here from a foodie website expecting a chocolate simple syrup recipe! That was a typo that I couldn’t go back and change after I’d submitted it. I haven’t made Annie’s chocolate syrup, but based on my experience with her recipes, it’d be delicious.)