Tart Cherry Tart, aka Sour Cherry Crostata

At the beginning of the month, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting that nearly all of Michigan's Montmorency cherry crop has been lost this year due to weather conditions. As a precautionary measure, I immediately stocked up on a massive supply of dried Montmorency cherries. Knowing about the cherry shortage in Michigan made me particularly happy to see sour cherries at the farmers market this year.

While pie is my Achilles' heel, I can happily make tarts all day long, so I decided to try an epicurious.com recipe for "Sour Cherry Crostata." This tart has a cookie-like crust (butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, salt, lemon zest) that you make in the mixer and chill before rolling out. The filling is cherries, butter, and sugar cooked together and thickened with cornstarch. You use quite a bit of cornstarch (three tablespoons to thicken less than two pounds of cherries), so the filling was very thick. After the filling is cooled, you spread it in the chilled tart shell and lay across strips of dough to form a quick lattice (no weaving is required), brush the strips with egg, sprinkle on sugar, and bake.

This tart was just beautiful out of the oven. The cherry juices did bubble and overflow during baking, but because I always bake tarts on a foil-lined baking sheet, this didn't cause a serious problem. It also released cleanly from the tart pan for easy cutting and serving.

The filling was so thick in the finished tart that there was absolutely no seepage of cherry juices during cutting. If anything, the gelatinous filling seemed slightly unnatural, like something that might have come out of a can. But it was still tasty, and I liked this tart. The lemon zest in the crust added a lovely bright flavor. The crust had a nice firm texture and was evenly cooked (I tend to have a problem with soggy or undercooked crusts whenever I make pies), and I loved the fact that the tart was so tidy. 

I can't really complain about this tart, because it was gorgeous and tasted good. That said, there was nothing about it that made it special or particularly memorable. The day before I made this tart, I enjoyed a slice of cherry pie made by a colleague; his pie crust was more flaky, buttery and flavorful than my tart crust. But I have no regrets about putting all of my 2012 fresh sour cherry supply into a couple of these tarts!

Recipe: "Sour Cherry Crostata," from epicurious.com.

Previous Post: "This Tart Sticks With You: Lattice-Topped Apple Tart," October 27, 2011.


Louise said…
Grab the sour cherries from the farmers market while you can. I bought three quarts last weekend, 3 qts on Thursday, and another 3 qts today. The farmer told me that the crazy spring weather we had in Pa. will probably result in most of our fruits having particularly short seasons this year. I pitted and froze some with sugar(2 lbs cherries & 3/4 c sugar) as this gives a superior result for winter pies over just freezing the cherries plain. I'm going to can a couple of quarts of pie filling just because I have ClearGel and I want to see the results. The rest of the cherries are going into my favorite pie today. I use a hodge podge of recipes. The filling is from "Baking from the Heart" and uses 3 pts of cherries plus 3 T cornstarch and 3/4 c sugar. The filling is not cooked first. (The ingredients seem to be about what the crostata has.) It's just mixed together and dumped into a pie shell. I go easy on the sugar, probably more like 1/2 c. as I use a streusel topping. I like to use a Nancy Baggett crust with almonds that just pressed into the pan. So, that's probably more than you wanted to know, but I kept thinking about your thick filling. It must be the extra simmering.