I've been more than a bit crazy for stone fruits this last week and weekend and as such I thought it was more than time for me to put all that energy and happiness into a dessert of some kind, to share with you. So, wha-la, here you go. This lovely, easy Cherry Ricotta Tart. Don't you just love it when something beautiful can also be at it's very essence, easy? Ease and beauty is what I find myself striving for in the kitchen time and time again.
Despite feeling a frustrating combination of angst and idleness on other fronts this weekend, I managed to get a lot of items ticked off my schedule, indulged in thinking about future stone fruit posts and even spent a little more time working on my photography skills. Much work needs to be done on that front, but that is a post for another day entirely.
It helped enormously to also channel some of that angst and frustration into pitting cherries for this tart. Busy work that allows me to be productive while at the same time helps me work through the internal stuff or sometimes even forget it. To get lost in the repetitive, fluid motions of de-stemming, pitting and splitting is at times a gift. Work that I used to roll my eyes at or rush through, I now treasure.
Although it's still considered a bit "early" for truly fully ripe stone fruits I haven't been at all disappointed with what I've purchased so far. We live in cherry country here in the Pacific Northwest and although most of our local cherries won't make a strong showing until mid June, these lovely Bing's are from central Washington, just east of the Cascade Mountains and were quite delicious.
Rainier Cherries would be equally lovely on this tart if you've got some extra cash to splash out. Usually starting around $10 a lb, I wait until the season is mid to half over and prices have fallen a bit before buying any. We get a bit neurotic about our Rainier's around here. Almost as much as we do about Copper River Salmon, which season has just started and the price of which can easily bring $25-$30 a lb. I can hardly wait for the prices to fall a bit. Oh and by the way, cherries and salmon in a dish together? A match made in culinary heaven.
A few notes on this tart. If you are not a fan of ricotta cheese, don't let it prevent you from making this recipe! Lightly sweetened marscapone or cream cheese would be equally lovely or even whipped cream if you want to avoid the cheese all together.
Vegan options abound as well, the pie crust can be made with vegetable shortening instead of butter and the cheese can be replaced with whipped coconut milk, a recipe for which I just discovered here over the weekend. However you make it be sure to enjoy the delicious almond and cherry flavors that shine through and thank the stone fruit gods for the beginning of what looks to be a lovely fruit season.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 T. heavy cream
1/4 C. Sugar in the Raw or coarse sanding sugar
3/4 C. sliced, blanched almonds
1 1/2 lbs. ripe cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 C. sugar
lemon zest from 1lemon
11 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (or vegetable shortening for a vegan opt.)
1 2/3 C. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4- 1/3 cup. ice water
For the crust: Combine the butter, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Slowly add the water to the food processor while pulsing until the dough just begins to form into a ball. Remove from bowl, flatten into a large disk on a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for1 hour or freeze for 10 minutes. Once chilled, roll into a 12x16 inch rectangle, on a piece of parchment paper, trimming sides for evenness. Chill for 10 minutes in the freezer. While chilling preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush the chilled pastry with the combined egg yolk and heavy cream. Use almond milk if making this vegan. Sprinkle the 1/4. sugar and almonds over the surface and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely to room temperature.
While baking, combine the cherries, sugar and zest in a medium bowl and allow to macerate for 1 hour. You could add a splash of amaretto if you like for flavor.
Once the pastry is cooled, spread the ricotta cheese over the top, then using a strainer spoon carefully scatter the cherries over the top. Sprinkle the zest evenly over the cherries. Serve the remaining cherry juice along side the tart.