A Regional Canadian Food: Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

Summer.
I don’t know what that means where you’re from, but here in Alberta summer is immediately associated with cherries. Not that we actually grow them in our province, but our lovely neighbours to the west do and we snatch them up like hotcakes. I thought that a recipe for dessert with cherries would be perfect for the July Canadian Food Experience Project theme, “A Regional Canadian Food“.
Now I prefer my desserts to provide a chocolate overdose – bring it on, there can never be too much chocolate. But when you are working with beautiful, fresh fruit, you would be an idiot not to make it the star. Chocolate and cherries? Bingo. Add some vanilla in there? Now you’re talking my language.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard for anything to taste better than a big ‘ol bowl of luscious cherries on a hot summer day (in fact I’m sure if you look far enough back in the albums you can find me at my friend’s summer birthday party, shoving my face with cherries and Cheezies, what a combo). If they’re not better, these chocolate cherry tartlets are at least on par.  And there are no pits to worry about. We wouldn’t want anyone swallowing a pit and growing a cherry tree in their stomach, now would we?
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
makes 4 mini tarts

Chocolate Tart Dough
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
2 egg large egg yolks
2 tbsp. cream or milk (whichever you have on hand)

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl (everything from the flour to the salt). You can sift it if you like but it’s really not necessary. Add the butter and work it into the dough using your hands. It should look like coarse meal by the time you’re done. Add the yolks and cream/milk and mix until the dough comes together, forming a cohesive ball. You can knead it lightly to help with this process but don’t overwork it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using it. If you want to be on the ball, make it a few days in advance or even whip up some large batches and freeze for future use.

When you are ready to roll it out, get yourself 2 large pieces of parchment paper. By rolling it out between the 2 sheets, you prevent the dough from sticking to everything (which means you don’t have to spend unnecessary time scrubbing down the counter). Using a rolling pin, get the dough to the point where it is about 1/4 inch thick. Also, try to keep it as circular or square as possible. Then you can cut it into 4 even portions and press the dough into your tart shells. Be sure to get it right into the corners. Drape the dough, leaving a little bit of overhang to work with and be gentle. Don’t worry if it rips here and there, it’s pretty easy to patch back up. Remove the excess dough from the edges by pressing down on the tart shell with the palm of your hand or rolling across it with the rolling pin. Any scraps can be formed into little chocolate cookies to munch on. Pop the tarts in the freezer for 15-20 minutes prior to baking.

Heat your oven to 325F. Once the tarts have chilled, bake them off for 15-18 minutes (if you made extra cookies, these only take about 10 minutes). You’re looking for them to be opaque. If the dough is still shiny/greasy looking, it needs more time. When the tarts are done, allow them to cool to room temperature before removing them from the tins.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Take your pastry cream (see recipe below) and distribute it equally amongst the 4 tart shells. You will need about 25 cherries (halved and pitted) for the 4 tarts. Place the halves on top of the cream, skin side up, in the pattern of your choice. Depending on how tightly you pack the cherries together, you may need more or less than 25 (it’s just an estimate). Cover and chill before serving. And remember to take lots of pictures of your handiwork!

Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

Vanilla Pastry Cream
Adapted from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp. butter

Bring the milk and half the sugar (2 tbsp.) to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, flour and remaining 2 tbsp. of sugar. Now pastry cream comes together fairly quick, so from this point on, you want to make sure you have everything ready to go. Fill your sink with ice water so you can chill down the pastry cream once it has thickened. Put the butter in a bowl large enough to hold the finished pastry cream (if it 1.5-2 cups worth you’re golden). Also, get yourself a fine mesh sieve and set it over top of the bowl.

Now you’re ready. Once the milk is simmering, whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Then gradually pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer everything back into the pot and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat. After it comes to a boil, pass it through the sieve into the bowl with the butter. Place the bowl into the ice bath you created in your sink. Stir the pastry cream to help some of the heat dissipate.

At this point, you may or not have lumpy pastry cream. I find that no matter how many times I make the stuff, it always turns out lumpier than I want it to be. But no fear, you have one of two options to fix this problem. A) Strain it again. The only issue here is that you lose some of your pastry cream because it sticks to the sieve. B) Pull out an immersion blender and go to town. Works like a charm every time.

Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, directly on the surface (to prevent a skin). Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Cherry Tartlets
Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

3 thoughts on “A Regional Canadian Food: Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

  • July 17, 2013 at 6:32 am
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    Good job! I have found many articles to read but you do a good thing. That is a boy. Thank you so much for sharing the delicious post. Expect your next article.
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    Reply
  • July 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm
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    Cherries definitely say summer to me, and these are beautiful! I’ve never made pastry cream but your directions look pretty easy. Thanks!

    Reply

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