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, that’s for sure. 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 (one of my favorite food blogs) 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!). I’m not generally a person who enjoys liquor but with the cherries it’s good enough to make me want to randomly capitalize letters, and those who know me know I don’t do that lightly.
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’ll be adding that to my future to-cook list.
The biggest trick to this – and maybe it isn’t so much a trick as a reminder to myself and anyone who cooks like I do – is to have all of the ingredients prepared beforehand. I tend to get halfway through a recipe before noticing that I don’t have all the ingredients and that’s especially frustrating when there isn’t even a place to go buy them (specifically, Utah liquor stores…). The recipe itself is pretty straightforward despite using ingredients I wasn’t terribly familiar with. Consider it a grocery store treasure hunt!
For an extra food adventure, you can make the mascarpone cheese too! I haven’t done this yet but have seen it on Pinterest, so it must be do-able, right? Here is a good link with detailed instructions: Cheesemaking.com – Mascarpone Cheese. I’ll probably do this next time so I can avoid driving to four separate stores to find the stuff. The one that had it? WinCo. Yeah, surprised me too!
The reason for the tart pan having a removable bottom is so it can sit on the solid metal bottom and have the beautiful crust showing, and still be possible to cut into pretty slices. Just put your hand on the bottom (after it’s completely cool of course) and very gently, nudge the metal ring away from the crust until it drops down onto your elbow, then set the tart down on a decorative plate with the pan bottom still underneath it. Then go wash your elbow, it’s sticky. 🙂 Now break out that pie server and serve some beautiful tart slices!
- 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.