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Archive for Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Chocolate, bing cherries make great dessert

July 9, 2003

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Surely you've noticed the bags of ripe bing cherries in the supermarkets lately. Our own cherry trees were clobbered by a late frost and did not bear much fruit this year, so I've been getting my annual cherry fix from grocers and generous friends whose crop was spared.

Bings, which can be eaten fresh and without added sweetener, are not generally regarded as pie cherries, but you still can build a dessert around them. One of my favorite combinations is cherries and chocolate, and with that in mind I assembled a tart last week that is worth sharing. Although the chocolate is substantial, the cherries hold their own.

The faint of heart might balk at turning on the oven at this time of year, but you can quickly bake the crust in the evening and assemble the tart the next day. The end product will be worth a brief spike in your indoor temperature.

The recipe is one I adapted from a recipe that appeared earlier in the year in Bon Appetit. The complementary flavor there was orange, but to my way of thinking the fresh cherries are a whole lot more interesting.

Unlike many "Black Forest" desserts that mix cherries and chocolate, this one is not annoyingly sweet.

You'll need a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If the dark chocolate seems overwhelming, top each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, before you top it with the cherry sauce.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Almond Tart

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Crust

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling

6 ounces slivered almonds, toasted and chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup fresh bing cherries, stemmed, pitted and chopped

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Sauce

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

3 cups bing cherries, stemmed and pitted

To prepare the crust, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Add flour and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to an 11-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough over a 9-inch tart pan and peel off remaining paper. Press dough into the pan, using overhang to make thick sides. Pierce dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake crust until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, about 12 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. If sides of crust have collapsed, immediately use the back of a spoon to press crust back into place. Let cool completely.

To prepare the filling, toss almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped cherries, then almond mixture over bottom of cooled crust. Place cream and vanilla in top of double boiler. Bring almost to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm.

To make sauce, bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Stir in cherries and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Cool sauce before serving. Pour 1/4 cup of sauce over each slice before serving.

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