This Chocolate Cherry Tart is definitely not kid stuff – the alcohol kick is real, inspired by those foil‐wrapped candies of childhood. The tart has three elements: a crisp crust, a layer of port‐poached cherries and a soft, sensuous dark‐chocolate filling, a cross between a flan and a custard, that nearly covers the cherries. Because cherries can be very mild and their texture, once baked, can be too soft, we fortified them by poaching them first in citrus infused port. But, even fortified, we weren’t taking any chances that they might be overpowered – that’s why we use the ultimate team player: chocolate, not the usual French pastry‐chef choice. Paired with the cherries, the dark chocolate offers a fifty‐fifty taste experience – each mouthful is half strong chocolate, half sweet and port‐flavored cherry. Scrumptious.
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
- 1 Cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 Cups all‐purpose flour
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 moist, plump vanilla bean
- 1 1/2 Cups ruby port
- 1 strip orange zest (pith removed), plus a pinch of grated orange zest
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 pound fresh cherries, halved and pitted (you may substitute frozen cherries if necessary)
- 4 1/2 ounces dark or semi‐sweet chocolate, preferably imported, finely chopped
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- scant 1/4 Cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- unsweetened whipped cream for serving
- The crust: Toss the pieces of butter into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is homogeneous. Set the speed to low and, one by one, add the sugar, and flour, mixing until the dough is crumbly. Pour in the egg and continue to mix on low only until the dough comes together in a ball – take care not to over mix the dough. (Alternatively, you can make the dough in a food processor. Process the ingredients in the same order, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed. However, rather than waiting for the dough to come together in a ball in the processor, it’s better to stop when the dough is moist and forms curds. Remove the dough from the processor and use your hand to form it into a ball.)
- Divide dough in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic wrap. You’ll only need one disk to make this tart, so put that disk of dough in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours and freeze the other disk for another tart. (Wrapped airtight, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to a month.)
- Butter the inside of an 8‐ by 1 1/4‐inch fluted round tart pan with a removable bottom, place the pan on a parchment‐lined baking sheet, and keep it close at hand. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a round with a thickness of 1/8 inch. Gently lift the dough into the pan and fit it over the bottom and up the sides of the pan; run your pin across the top of the tart pan to cut the excess dough level with the rim. (If the dough tears while you’re trying to fit it into the pan, just patch it with scraps.) Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes while you preheat the oven.
- Center a rack in the oven and 4. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator, line the tart shell with parchment paper or foil, and fill it with dried beans or rice. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is firm but not fully baked. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack, remove the paper and beans, and cool the crust to room temperature. (The crust can be made 8 hours ahead and kept uncovered in its pan at room temperature.) While the crust is cooling, make the filling.
- The Filling: Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and, using the back of the knife, scrape the pulp out of the pod. Toss the pulp and pod into a medium saucepan along with the port, the strip of orange zest, and the orange juice and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Add the cherries and bring back to the boil, then immediately pull the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- When the syrup is cool, strain it into a small pan. Pat the cherries dry between paper towels. Boil the syrup until it is reduced to a glaze, then set it aside.
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Put the chocolate in a 2‐quart measuring cup or a large bowl and keep it close to the stove‐top. Bring the cream and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan, then slowly pour the hot liquid over the chocolate, whisking gently until the mixture is smooth. (Don’t whisk vigorously – you don’t want to beat air into the mixture.) One by one, whisk in the eggs, mixing until they are incorporated and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the grated orange zest.
- Arrange the cherry halves on the bottom of the crust and pour over the chocolate filling. (It will come nearly to the top.) Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is gently set – if you tap the side of the tart pan lightly, you’ll see that the center shimmies only slightly, if at all. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to room temperature.
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