Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cherry Tartlets

cherry tartlet
March is a busy month for birthdays! Tomorrow, my Grandpa Gondring turns a whopping 98 years old, though just by looking at the man and carrying on a conversation with him, you'd never guess he had that many years under his belt. Because I can't get over there tomorrow (I'm going to look at wedding dresses with a friend and then will attempt to play my first soccer game since giving birth...eek!), I decided to make him a birthday dessert and bring it over to the house today. The man isn't a cake fan (which is fine by me because that Inside Out German Chocolate Cake for my mom plum wore me out!), so I decided to try a variation of cherry pie. Instead of making my grandma's pie crust, I made a cream cheese pastry crust (using cream cheese makes pastry practically fool-proof). I also cooked the cherries on the stove top so that I could more accurately measure how much filling was needed for each tartlet. And finally, because cherries and almonds go so well together, I whipped up an easy pastry cream using almond paste to really bring it all together. I personally found it quite delicious, though I am still waiting on feedback from Grandpa. I'll keep you posted!

Cherry Tartlets
Kelley Gondring

Makes 9 pastries [using 4" pastry tins]

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons Lilly White flour
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
4.5 ounces cream cheese, chilled and cut into small pieces
pinch salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse together for 30 seconds or until crumbly mixture forms. Drizzle heavy cream overtop and pulse together for 30 seconds or until dough just comes together. Do not over pulse (aka: stop pulsing before one big ball of dough forms). Remove from food processor and use hands to form cohesive ball of dough. Cut into 9 pieces and roll into balls. Place in plastic wrap and let chill at least one hour or up to two days.

Cherry Filling
4 1/2 cups pitted sour cherries
heaping 3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until filling thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to medium bowl to cool.

Pastry Cream
6 ounces almond paste, slightly warmed in microwave
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanille extract
1 large egg
pinch of salt

Cream together all ingredients into a small bowl. Aim for a smooth of a consistency, though if the almond paste hasn't gotten warm enough there may still be some lumps. That's okay. Set aside.

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Remove pastry dough from refrigerator. One at a time, roll out into a circle (doesn't need to be perfect), about 8" in diameter. Brush off excess flour. Place rolled dough into 4" pastry tin. Fold down dough that hangs over edges back towards the center of the pastry and lightly press together. Repeat 8 more times. Brush lightly with egg wash. Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and use fork to gently poke holes where dough has poofed up.

Pour into the bottom of each tart shell 1 tablespoon of pastry cream and 1 scant cup cherry filling. Repeat 8 times more.

Bake for 30 minutes or until tart shell is golden brown and cherry filling is bubbling.

golden brown + bubbling

the finished product
Let cool for 10 minutes before removing tart tin and serving. (They can be refrigerated and eaten later but they're best right out of the oven.) Garnish as desired. Pair with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if available. If not, they're delicious all by themselves.

Eat up!

still cheeky at ninety-eight

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