If cream cheese had a superhero it would be mascarpone cheese. There are so many wonderful flavor highlights here – fresh cherries, glazed cherries, shortbread cookie crust, with rich amaretto to tie it all together. This is a dessert for after the little ones go to bed. Fresh cherries come to the local farmers markets starting in mid-to-late-June so it’s time to post one of my favorite desserts. I look forward to cherry season for THIS:
I discovered this recipe on Serious Eats and knew I had to try it. Yes it’s a lot of work to halve and pit this many cherries, but it is SO WORTH IT. This is the cherry pitter that I have and still love it, 12+ lbs of cherries later (much more than one tart!).
Last year I tried it with Frangelico instead (a hazelnut liquor) – this was not sweet enough and if I did it again I’d at least double the sugar, but the amaretto is a much better flavor match. If cherries are out of season, the recipe creator suggested pears which I have not tried.
The biggest trick to this is to have all of the ingredients prepared beforehand. The recipe itself is pretty straightforward. Consider it a grocery store treasure hunt!
- 2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs (See Note)
- 6 Tbsp brown sugar (divided 4 Tbsp + 2Tbsp)
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp salt (divided 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved
- 3/4 cup Amaretto liqueur (divided 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- In medium bowl, combine shortbread crumbs, 4 Tbsp brown sugar, almonds, butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Press into bottom and up sides of tart pan. Bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring 3/4 cup cherries, 1/2 cup Amaretto, white sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add remaining fresh cherries and toss to coat. Set aside.
- Combine water and gelatin in small bowl. Microwave until gelatin dissolves, about 20 seconds. Cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes.
- In medium bowl, whisk together mascarpone, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, remaining 1/4 cup Amaretto, vanilla, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cooled gelatin mixture until smooth.
- Spread mascarpone mixture in cooled tart shell and top with cherry mixture.
- Chill at least 30 minutes before serving or removing the pan ring.
- Share. At least one piece, so people will believe you when you tell them how amazing it was and why only two pieces made it to the potluck.