Much as I want to try and alternate the sweet stuff around here with the savory, I’m also well aware that cherry season is in its full glorious swing. And after cutting it so close with the strawberries, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and will delay no longer. Consider this your extra helping of dessert.
I love the combination of almonds with almost any fruit, but cherries (and other stone fruits) are complemented particularly well by these nuts–almonds are closely related to cherries (and peaches, plums, and apricots), so it’s perhaps just a matter of a family reunion. And when your long lost relatives are sweet but red-blooded cherries, the get-together is bound to be a happy one (though maybe still a bit dramatic!)
I can’t think of red cherries without remember the year I lived in my small Czech village, where cherry trees lined the winding country roads and all at once come June blazed burgundy, fruits generously on offer for anyone to pick and enjoy. (Well, or so I assumed). In the Czech Republic I also used to buy what were called “marzipan potatoes“–an unglamorous name, maybe, for little spheres of soft marzipan you could squish between your fingers before popping into your mouth. But I didn’t need my candy carved into intricate sculptures or painstakingly painted with a delicate hand. The flavor of marzipan is enough for me. Elegance that is easy to come by, though, is perfectly fine with me, which brings me to frangipane: that fancy sounding, moist but cake-like filling rich with almond paste, butter and sugar.
Cherries and almonds together is nice. In a tart, irresistible.
Usually I manage to exercise a bit of self control with my baked goods. But not universally. It turns out the combination of a buttery crust with a fragrant, tender filling, studded with ruby fruits of summer proved too much for me. And thus my husband was rather surprised to realize I was handing him (shoving at him) half of a 10-inch tart to take into work. Because, aside of a few slivers for my sons, I had basically eaten the other half on my own. (So much for the mother who puts her children first). Rather quickly. You have been warned. Perhaps cherry season is blessedly brief.
Notes: If you have a stand mixer, I suggest using this to combine the almond paste and butter. It can take a while to incorporate, and even using a hand mixer you can get tired. Try to have the two ingredients at the same temperature to aid this process as well.
I adapted the crust from a fantastic press-in crust recipe I saw at Bojon Gourmet. I used a larger tart pan, so I attempted some math to make sure I had enough tart dough. This is the reason for the somewhat odd ingredients measurements. You can find the recipe for an 8 or 9 inch pan over at her site. The frangipane filling is from a version I found on epicurious, available here.
For an absolutely wonderful video showing how to “rub in” butter, check out this great video from Poires au Chocolat–I had always suspected I wasn’t doing it quite right, and I’m thrilled to finally have it right!
- 1c + 2T all purpose flour (5 1/3 ounces)
- 1/4c + 1T (1.25 ounces) powdered sugar (this is the same as 5T)
- scant 1/4 t salt
- 9 T cold, unsalted butter, in 1/2″ dice (4.5 ounces)
- 12 ounces of cherries.
- 7 ounces almond paste (not marzipan; about 1 cup; this is a standard size log, I used Odense which I found at the grocery store)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Make the crust: Stir together the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter cubes and rub with your fingertips until no large butter chunks remain and the mixture begins to clump together. Dump into a 10″ tart pan with a removable bottom and press as evenly as possible up the sides and into the bottom of the pan. Use the sides of your palm to help press up the sides. Freeze the crust until firm while you preheat the oven, at least 15 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Bake the frozen crust until it is just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let the shell cool off a bit before filling.
Make the filling
Pit the cherries and set aside.
Beat almond paste, butter, sugar, extract, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed 3 minutes. Make sure there are no lumps. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in flour.
Spread the frangipane filling in the partially baked shell. Arrange the pitted cherries over the filling. Bake until puffed and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature.