Finally, the end of the summer cherries are here and they are a lot cheaper!
If you know my style of cooking and baking you know I’m fond of the term ‘rustic’. I think in my past life I lived in the country, probably in Ireland or Scotland in a cute little farmhouse on land covered in blackberries and a garden with rich, black soil filled with herbs and veggies (I was a fantastic gardener in my past life…also slimmer and better looking) with a couple of barefoot, wild-haired children who run home with purple faces and scratched arms and legs because I made them go and pick blackberries all the time so I could bake pies. I had 8 cats (2 lived inside and the rest lived in the barn) and I whipped up all sorts of delicious things, sweet and savoury, in my coal-range oven whilst the hunter-gatherer (who was stronger than any man alive…..a lot like Thor) was out cutting down trees for firewood…..hmm, starting to sound like a ‘Mills & Boon’!
So now that you all know how old fashioned I am, back to my favourite term, ‘rustic’, which is how I would describe this Cherry tart which certainly has that farmhouse, ‘baked in the country’ look about it. If anything I cook or bake tastes really good but doesn’t look perfect because of the way it’s made, basically, I call it rustic! Like this tart…..the cherries aren’t perfectly placed on top and the crumb base will never have a perfect edge and some crumbs will always come away when you cut it and some will even fall onto the pretty cherry top. When you cut it unless your knife is as sharp as Lagertha’s sword the cherries will be pushed into the creamy white filling and more perfection lost. So this tart may not look like it just stepped out of ‘Food Vogue’ but it’s damn delicious and a wonderful dessert to end any dinner party. 🙂
The base is made from plain biscuits and sliced almonds and then baked in the oven for a bit (it pays to bake it when it has sides, just to give it some added strength). The cheesecake filling is deliciously creamy and slightly tangy as it’s a mix of mascarpone and sour cream (both go beautifully with cherries!) and it’s slightly flavoured with lemon juice and vanilla essence and lightened with a little whipped cream. The topping is made with fresh cherries and has gelatine added so it sets on top of the tart.
400 g / 14 oz fresh cherries
¼ white sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 ½ medium-sized lemons)
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons gelatine granules
1 x 250 g / 8 ¾ oz packet plain biscuits (I use Griffins vanilla wines)
¼ cup sliced almonds
125 g / 4 ½ oz butter
½ cup full cream
1 cup / 200 g / 7 oz mascarpone
1 cup / 200 g / 7 oz sour cream
¼ cup castor sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons gelatine granules
2 tablespoons lemon juice (½ a medium-sized lemon)
- If you don’t feel like going through the bother of making the tart shell you can use a 23 cm / 9 in round, loose-bottomed cake tin instead and the bonus with that is that you also don’t need to cook the base! However, it will be a rather flat cheesecake and if you do decide to do this turn the loose base upside down as it’s easier to slide the cheesecake off when you are moving it to your serving plate.
- If you like you can replace the mascarpone with regular (not low-fat) cream cheese.
STEP BY STEP
First, squeeze the lemons (½ cup in total, from 2 juicy, medium-sized lemons) and set the juice aside for now.
It’s best to make the topping first so it can cool down whilst you are making the tart.
So, stem and stone the plump cherries and then slice them in half.
- I use a cherry stoner but if you don’t have one you can pull the stem out and then using a sharp little knife, cut them in half around the pip. Then twist the two sides in opposite directions so that they separate and then flick the pip out.
Next, place them in a saucepan with the sugar, ¼ cup of the lemon juice and the water.
Place them over a medium-high heat and stirring often, bring them to a boil and then turn the heat down to low (or to where it’s just boiling/simmering) and leave it to simmer, stirring often, for 8 – 10 minutes or until the cherries have softened.
When done, remove them from the heat but leave them in the saucepan.
Place 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice into a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over the surface.
Now boil the jug (kettle).
Whilst it’s boiling, find another heatproof bowl, larger than the small bowl containing the gelatine and juice and place the smaller bowl inside it.
Carefully pour some boiling water into the larger bowl so that it reaches the same height as the gelatine and juice inside the smaller bowl…..being careful not to get any boiling water inside the small bowl.
Gently mix the gelatine and juice together until all of the gelatine has dissolved (this should only take a minute).
Then add the dissolved gelatine to the cherry mix, stirring it in well and then leave it out whilst continuing with the rest of the tart, returning to it every 10 minutes or so to give it a stir.
First liberally spray a 25 cm /10 inch round, loose-bottomed flan/tart tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 150°C fan bake oven or 175°C conventional oven, on bake, with a rack situated in the centre of the oven.
Next, cut the butter into cubes and place them into a small saucepan letting them melt over a low heat. As soon as they’re melted, set aside.
- Alternatively, place it in a microwave jug and melt it in the microwave (you could even let it explode all over the place like I do, so much fun cleaning it up)!
Now, in your food processor process the biscuits and the sliced almonds until they are fine crumbs and then place them into a medium-sized bowl.
- I don’t recommend for this tart because the crumbs must be very fine but if you don’t have a food processor you can use a thick, resealable plastic bag. Fill it with the biscuits and the almonds, lay it flat on the bench, lay a tea-towel over it and use a rolling pin to bash and roll the biscuits until they are well crushed.
Add the melted butter and mix to thoroughly combine.
Spoon the crumbs into the tin, evenly spreading them out.
Use your fingers to very firmly press the crumbs into the sides, so it is about ½ cm/¼ in thick.
- This may take a while but it’s the most important part of making this tart as you don’t want the sides to crumble when you take it out of the tin.
Still taking your time, use a flat-bottomed cup or glass to firmly press down the remaining crumbs, also pressing the sides of the glass into the sides.
Place it n the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
Once done, leave it in the tin to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour (you can slowly make the filling during this time).
In a small bowl, use an electric beater, on medium speed, to beat the cream for around 1 ½ minutes or until stiff peaks form (if you pulled some up with a spoon it should stand up stiff).Set aside.
Next, place in a medium-sized bowl the mascarpone, the sour cream, the castor sugar and the vanilla essence and…
…use the beaters again to beat it all together for around a minute or until nice and smooth. Again, leave aside..
Now, you have to dissolve some more gelatine for the filling, so excuse the repetitiveness. 🙂
Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice into a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over the surface.
Boil the jug again and whilst it’s boiling, find another heatproof bowl that is larger than the small bowl containing the water and gelatine and place the smaller bowl inside it.
Carefully pour some boiling water into the larger bowl so that it reaches the same height as the water and the gelatine inside the smaller bowl…..being careful not to get any boiling water inside the small bowl.
With a teaspoon mix, the water and gelatine together until all of the gelatine has dissolved (this should only take a minute).
Then remove the gelatine bowl from the larger bowl and leave it sitting on the bench for a few minutes until it feels like it has cooled down to around the same temperature as the mascarpone mixture (stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the sides).
Then add it to the mascarpone mixture and beat in for around 20 seconds or until nicely combined.
That’s it for the filling so spoon it into the base and…
- Make sure the base has cooled down to at least room temperature before doing this or it will melt the cream and the filling will seep through the base…we don’t want that!
…once spread out, smooth the surface over with a palette knife to get it as flat and as even as possible (important with this tart as it has a topping going on).
Then place it in the fridge to set for 1 hour…ALSO…pop the saucepan of cherries into the fridge for the same amount of time.
After an hour is up, remove it from the fridge and carefully spoon the cherry topping all over the top.
Then return to the fridge to set for a further hour or until the topping has set like jelly.
Remove the tart from the tin by first using a pointy little knife to run down the sides in between the sides of the base and the tin to make sure it isn’t stuck anywhere.
Then place it on an upturned, flat-bottomed bowl (it needs to be smaller than the tin) so that the side of the tin falls down (with your help) and the tin base and tart are left sitting on top of the bowl.
Next, run a long, sharp knife around in between the base and the bottom of the tin to loosen it.
Use a spatula (or two) to help you slide it onto a flat serving plate and use a large, very sharp knife to cut it into 8 wedges.
- I like to wipe the knife with a damp cloth between cuts so as not to get crumbs from the knife on the top.
Keepin’ it fresh – Keep well covered with cling wrap in the fridge up to 2 days. It will keep a few longer too but the base will become soft.