High Country Baking: Sweet Cherry Tart | SummitDaily.com

High Country Baking: Sweet Cherry Tart

Editor's note: High altitude make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.

Got the tired-of-winter blues? This pretty dessert might help chase them away. It's a thin tart with a sweet cherry filling swaddled in a rich shortbread crust that's guaranteed to add a little cheer to almost any day.

No fresh fruit is required, just high-quality cherry preserves and dried cherries. The preserves provide most of the tart's taste, so use one you find pleasing and make sure it's thick, or the filling could be runny when the tart is sliced.

Chop the dried cherries into small pieces, a quarter-of-an-inch or less in size so you get several in every bite. To increase their flavor and soften the dried fruit, soak them in berry/cherry liqueur or juice (try crème de cassis).

The decorative dough cutouts are made with a cookie cutter and can be almost any size and shape.

To use a 9-inch tart pan, increase the filling ingredients to 1 ½ times what's listed in the recipe (i.e., ¾ cup Bing Cherries, etc.).

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Vera Dawson is a baking instructor and author of the high-altitude cookbooks Cookies in the Clouds and Baking Above It All, available at The Bookworm in Edwards, and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at 9,000 feet altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Sweet Cherry Tart

Make in an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom

Crust

1 ¼ cups bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level

2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

¼ teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 large egg yolk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon lemon juice

2 ½ -3 tablespoons ice water

Filling

½ cup chopped dried Bing cherries

1-2 tablespoons berry/cherry liqueur, cherry juice or water

¾ cup thick cherry preserves

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios or flaked almonds

Glaze

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cream

1-2 tablespoons large grain granulated sugar

Instructions

1. Make the crust: Grease the bottom (not the sides) of your tart pan and set it aside. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend well. Cut butter into 28 pieces, add, and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Whisk the yolk, vanilla, lemon juice and 2 ½ tablespoons ice water in a cup measure until combined and add to mixture. Pulse until dough forms large, moist curds; if needed, add a little more ice water. Dump out onto a sheet of waxed paper and gently knead until smooth. Form a 6-inch disc with three-fourths of the dough and a 3-inch disc with the remaining dough. Cover both discs and refrigerate or freeze them until firm and easy to roll. Roll the larger disc into a 10-inch circle and use it to line the tart pan. Put pan, covered, in the freezer until dough is very firm. Roll the remaining disc to a 1/8-inch thickness and use a cookie cutter (dip in flour to prevent sticking) to create cut-outs for the tart top. Refrigerate the cut-outs, re-roll the dough scraps, make and refrigerate more cut-outs. If, at any time in the process, the dough gets soft and hard to work with, return it to the refrigerator or freezer to chill until firm.

2. Place a heavy cookie sheet on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

3. Making the filling: Combine the chopped dried cherries and liqueur in a small bowl, toss so all cherries are coated with liquid, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave at high temperature for about 15-20 seconds, until the fruit softens, absorbs some of the liquid, but doesn’t cook. In a medium mixing bowl, combine them with the preserves, lemon peel, and almond extract and stir vigorously with a silicone spatula to loosen the preserves and combine the ingredients. Spread the filling evenly in the cold crust, and sprinkle the chopped nuts over the top. Place the dough cut-outs decoratively on top, leaving some of the filling exposed.

4. Make the glaze: Blend the yolk and cream, brush over the dough cut-outs, and sprinkle sugar on top.

5. Place the tart on the heated cookie sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until the filling bubbles thickly and the crust and cut-outs are golden, this takes from 35-45 minutes. Cool completely on a rack and serve, or refrigerate, loosely covered. The tart cuts most easily when chilled but should be served at room temperature. Store leftovers for up to 3 days in the ‘fridge.

— This is a variation of a recipe published in Bon Appetit Desserts.