Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet Cherry Tart

We have friends coming for dinner tonight and are keeping it casual.  Yesterday, I met a friend for lunch at Whole Foods, and I decided that I would grab some puff pastry and some fruit to create a dessert.  I hadn't put any thought into the dessert--this was a last minute dinner--and didn't want to have to go to the store again today.  I ended up with 2 pounds of sweet cherries and was sort-of dumbfounded as to why I had chosen them.  They were out of season which meant they were expensive b/c they were imported from Chili.  I always try to buy in season and local, so again, I'm not sure why I did this.  If I had to surmise, I would think that it had to do with the fact that my three-year-old was with me and the store was packed because it was lunch time.  Nevertheless, here is the recipe I concocted. It would be better in the summer time when there is an abundance of fresh, seasonal fruit; any fruit could be used in the place of the cherries and any jam could replace the cherry preserves. Again any measurements listed are guesses!:

Sweet Cherry Tart
Serves 4-6
Takes about 30 minutes to make

2 lbs sweet cherries, seeded
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 sheet of puff pastry (2 usually come in a package)
4 TB confectioner's sugar
4 TB cherry preserves
1 TB Chambord (optional)

Before you make the tart: Thaw puff pastry on counter (this won't take but about an hour).  Also leave the cream cheese on the counter so it can soften.

Unfold the pastry onto a baking sheet and use a rolling pin and roll a bit thinner into a square or rectangle.  Use a knife and cut about 1/2-1 inch from each side of the pastry.  Don't pick up the piece you cut off, but flip it onto the pastry.  Repeat this on each side and you'll have a little ridge or crust all the way around the tart.  Cover with foil and put baking beans on it.*  And cook on 375 for about 20 minutes--this is not precise.  Keep an eye on it and remove it from the oven when it is nicely browned.  Oh, and most people beat egg white and a little water and spread it on top.  I forgot and skipped this step, but it will keep your pastry from becoming too brown.  What can I say?  I'm a lazy cook these days.

While the pastry is cooking: 

Mix about 4 TB cherry preserves with 1 TB or so Chambord--set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese wtih 4 TB (or more to get the sweetness you desire) of confectioner's sugar into the cream cheese.

Remove tart from heat and let cool.  Put dollops of the cream cheese all over the tart and then try to spread the dollops together to make a nice layer.  Then spread the preserve mixture on top of that.  Finally, put your pitted cherries all over the tart.

Voila!  You're done.  Simple, right?  Certainly better for summer time, but it will do!

*(When I used the beans in this way, it didn't work.   The beans are supposed to hold down the pastry so it doesn't inflate like a balloon, but my beans were puny.  I pulled the cookie sheet from the oven and used a clean dish towel to push down the pastry and deflate it.  This worked fine.  The middle was still not quit done so I put it back in at 400 for 5 or so minutes.

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