- 1/2 cup (120mL) salted butter, chilled
- 1 1/4 cups (310mL) all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (60mL) ice-cold water with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar added
- 24 regular aluminum tart shells or 48 mini tart shells dried beans for weighting
- 2 cups (450g) sour cherries, pits removed
- 1 tsp (5mL) olive oil
- pinch of salt (maximum 1/4 tsp or 1mL)
- few grindings of fresh black pepper
- 5 tsp (25mL) instant ClearJel starch
- 1/3 cup (70g) white sugar
- balsamic vinegar, as needed
- 100 grams of 70% dark chocolate, chopped finely
- 1/3 cup (75mL) whipping cream
- pinch of salt
- Optional: edible gold leaf
to prepare the pastry:
Using a coarse grater, grate the butter onto the flour.
Using a spoon or your fingers, gently mix the grated butter and flour together until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the flour. The mixture should look fluffy.
Add the ice water and vinegar a tablespoon at a time to the flour and butter mixture, blending in between additions, until the pastry starts to hold together. Perfect pastry is crumbly at this point, rather than wet.
Roll out your pastry thinly between sheets of plastic wrap. Then, using kitchen scissors, cut the pastry into small circles that will fit your tart shells. For each pastry circle, remove the top layer of plastic, flip into a tart shell, and pat into place. Freeze for at least 30 minutes with the top layer of plastic in place. While the tarts are in the freezer, preheat oven to 400°F.
To get the tarts ready for baking, pull the top layer of plastic off and press an empty aluminum shell into the tart (use the same size tart shell). Fill with dry beans.
Place the prepared tart shells on a baking sheet and then slide the sheet into the oven to bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull tarts out of the oven, and gently remove each bean-filled aluminum shell. Set beans aside.*
Using a fork, pierce the bottom of each pastry shell a few times and return to the oven. When the shells are a light golden colour, remove from the oven and let cool. Can be done a day ahead.
to prepare the cherry filling:
Coat sour cherries with oil, salt, and pepper. Place in an ovenproof dish, cover loosely with foil, and roast at 350°F for approximately one hour, or until the cherries split. Let cool.
Once cool, remove cherries from cherry liquid with a slotted spoon. Set aside the cooked cherries and pour the cherry liquid into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, add ClearJel to sugar, and mix well. Add sugar mix to cooled cherry liquid (about 3/4 cup or 180mL) and stir to combine well. Keep stirring gently as it thickens, approximately 5–10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check thickness and use balsamic to loosen, if needed. The filling should ooze, as if lounging on a chaise, rather than standing stiffly at attention (if you add too much balsamic, more ClearJel can be added, but it must be combined with sugar prior to adding, as it will clump on its own). Once you are happy with the thickness of the liquid, add cherries, and taste. The filling shouldn't be too sweet; these are cherries with attitude, after all. Refrigerate.
to prepare the chocolate ganache:
Right before you plan to assemble the tarts, put the whipping cream in a saucepan, and warm at medium-low heat, until small bubbles form at the edges.
Place the chopped dark chocolate in a small bowl, and pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds so the cream can begin to melt the chocolate.
Stir gently with a whisk as the chocolate melts. Once almost smooth, add the rest of the whipping cream and stir to combine.
to assemble the tarts:
Paint the warm chocolate ganache onto the baked tart shells. Make sure to spread the chocolate over the entire base of the shell and up the edges. The chocolate prevents the cherry filling from soaking into the pastry, so don't be stingy with the ganache. Place the painted shells in the refrigerator so the ganache hardens. Eat the remaining ganache with strawberries** as you wait. One must not waste food!
Approximately one hour before serving, spoon the chilled cherry filling into the chocolate-painted shells, and allow to come to room temperature.
For a touch of drama, top each tart with edible gold leaf.
*Now you have a set of baking beans! They are no longer good for eating but can be used when blind baking future pies.
**It can also be eaten on its own if you are feeling particularly carefree.
Read the story: The Queen of Tarts.