Thursday, July 17, 2014

White Cherry Almond Tart

I know a food blogger is supposed to treat the local farmer's market like a temple, making weekly obeisance and great sacrifices of cash. And I kinda do feel that way. My mother did push my stroller to the very first weekend of the Waverly Market in Baltimore. There are lots of other markets in this city, but that one is my market.

But, also, too ...

Ranier Cherries are here! And by here, I mean in my supermarket. They came all the way across the country on a refrigerated truck. If I were actually Listening to the Food, these cherries would be saying, "We don't belong here. Eat Maryland and Pennsylvania Cherries. You stink."

But I can't help it - they're just the best!

Of course I bought ten pounds. Nine of them survived the car ride home from the store. (Does spitting the pits out the window count as littering? Just asking for a friend.)

The untouched red cherries from last week are also giving me a guilt trip every time I open the fridge. Yeah, I got a lot of issues with fruit. But, while the Ranier Cherries are here, I will eat them at every meal.

I don't care! I love it!

These cherries are too perfect to bake, so I used them raw in a tart. Don't pit them more than a couple of hours in advance, or they'll brown.

Almond Crust
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (180g)
1/2 cup almond meal (50g)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (65g)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter
1 large egg

10-12" tart pan with removable bottom

In a food processor, pulse the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt several times to combine. Add the butter in a dozen chunks, then blitz the mixture to crumbs. Throw in the egg, then run the machine for about 20 seconds until the dough comes together into a ball. Press into a flat disk between two sheets of wax paper, and place in the freezer for ten minutes to firm up.

Spray tart pan with cooking spray, then press the dough into it to form a crust. I dip the bottom of my measuring cup in flour and use it to ease the dough up the sides of the pan. Use a fork to "dock" the crust, that is poke it several times to prevent it swelling with air bubbles. Freeze solid for at least two hours.

When crust is cool, spray a piece of foil with oil, then press the greased side against the crust. Take extreme care to make a tight fit in the corners and up the sides, which will prevent your crust shrinking. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes to brown slightly. The almonds make the crust very crunchy, so you can fill the tart several hours before serving and not worry about it getting soggy.

Pretty pie crust, no? This is the one I dropped on the floor taking it out of the oven. I made another one, but it wasn't quite as pretty. I was a little distracted inventing new swear words. Bake this on a rimmed cookie sheet, even if it's marginally more difficult to wash than a flat one.

Pastry Cream
1 1/4 cup milk (300ml)
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (20g)
1 tablespoon flour (10g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 lbs cherries, preferably Ranier

Heat milk in medium saucepan until steaming.Whisk yolks and sugar together, then add cornstarch and flour and beat smooth. Temper eggs by adding a few teaspoons of hot milk at a time, then repeating until the eggs and milk can be combined without producing lumps of scrambled eggs. Return mixture to saucepan and whisk constantly over low heat until cream simmers and thickens substantially, about two minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and almond extract . If you have lumps that don't want to whisk out, strain the cream before chilling. (I always tell myself that these are just air bubbles. This is always a lie.) Decant to glass dish, cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pit cherries just before assembling tart, to minimize browning. Fill tart with cream and smooth with a spatula. Pile cherries on top and refrigerate for at least twenty minutes to firm up.

This one was saying, "Eat me now."

So, I did.

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