I've been on a bit of a retro dessert kick lately. I don't precisely know why but I seem to be getting a bit tired of all the over the top caramel and marshmallow recipes that usually call my name when I'm trying to decide what to bake next. Simple, unfussy desserts like pound or bundt cakes, pies, puddings and cheesecake seem to be where my mind is leading me these days. I don't think this lapse into caramel, marshmallow restraint will last long though so I intend to make the most of my momentary diversion.
And what a better way to honor this shift than by baking up a bone fide old fashioned cherry pistachio tart? This recipe I found in an old church cookbook that belonged to my grandmother and was published in the 1950's. It was submitted by Coralee Ahlberg. Coralee, wherever you are, thank you for this little gem. And by the way, what is not to love about a woman named Coralee? And another thing, as far as I'm concerned, any recipe with maraschino cherries in it should be the standard bearer for any really good recipe from the 50's. In my mind maraschino cherries ARE the 1950's.
Originally this recipe calls for baking it in a 8x8 inch pan, I decided to fancy it up a notch by making it in a rectangular tart tin. It works well either way so don't feel beholden to doing it my way. The crust is a short pastry crust, similar in flavor and texture to a butter cookie. The topping has lovely gooey texture without being too sweet.
Cherry Pistachio Tart
1 C. all purpose flour
2 T. powdered sugar
1/2 C. softened butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8x8" baking pan with better and flour or cooking spray. If using a tart tin spray thoroughly.
Combine ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until just incorporated. Using your fingers press the mixture into the bottom of the pan or tart tin with a removable bottom.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn a light golden brown.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly while you prepare the topping.
For the topping:
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small bottle, maraschino cherries, drained, stemmed and halved
2 eggs well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. chopped nuts (of your choice)
1 C. shredded coconut (optional, I did not use)
Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and break up any lumps using a whisk.
Add the eggs, vanilla, nuts and cherries and stir until well incorporated. Lower the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the mixture over the top of the cooling crust and bake until the top of the tart is light brown in color. 25-30 minutes. It will appear slightly underdone but that's ok.
Coralee's instructions say only to bake "until lightly browned", no specific cook time is given, but I found that 25-30 minutes worked the best. Feel free to adjust your time as necessary. If using a tart pan I suggest putting it in the refrigerator for a short while to firm up the crust and filling before removal and cutting.