Cheery cherry days

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Aaaah, summer - when swimming, picnics and barbecues take centre stage. The season of drowsy days filled with bright light, warm breezes and the glorious colours of stone fruit. Blushing peaches and nectarines, golden mangoes, startling red chunks of watermelon and jewel-like shiny cherries just begging to be bitten into.

Cherries, my favourite of the stone fruit, are ideal for picnics and on-the-go snacking. I also like to eat them cold, straight from the fridge - so juicy and refreshing.  Actually, I like cherries any way they come: in jams, juices, sauces, compotes or covered in chocolate.

Chocolate? Now there’s a combination to think about…

That’s how I came up with this tart – using a chocolate pastry base, a mascarpone cream filling, and a topping of stewed cherries. It was a pretty simple dessert to put together and highly portable. We took this along to a barbecue, I made each component ahead then assembled the tarts when we got to our destination. The resulting tarts looked great and I didn’t have to worry about them breaking apart during the journey.

Hope you’re enjoying some warmth wherever you are.

For the tart shell, I used a basic shortcrust pastry base and swapped some of the flour for cocoa powder.

The mascarpone cream filling is similar to the one found here, with vanilla to flavour instead, and minus the cherries.

For the cherries:

2 cups cherries (pits left in, they hold their shape better this way)
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
juice of half a lemon and a slice of lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick

Place all the ingredients in a pan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir from time to time. When cherries are just tender (about 10 minutes or so), remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Keep simmering the leftover liquid until thick and syrupy (be careful not to overdo it or you’ll end up with toffee). I stored the cherries and the thick syrup separately. The cherries were kept in the fridge and the syrup at room temperature. When needed, place some mascarpone cream into a tart shell, top with a few cherries then drizzle with the syrup.


sarah @ syrupandhoney said...

I adore that very last photo! Aw, cherry earrings.

Lori said...

These tarts look very yummy.

And what nice earrings. How cute.

lostpastremembered said...

Lovely dish! cherries and chocolate are brilliant together!

Hungry Dog said...

Very pretty--the tarts and the earring both! Shaz, only you cold be so casual about bringing such a fancy and impressive dessert to a BBQ. I love it. And, jealous of the warm weather...

yours deliciously said...

Looks like gems..and a beautiful shot of the little princess.

Barbara said...

Simply adore the earrings! So cute and she had to sit so still!

Everyone loves cherries and chocolate together!! Your tart looks wonderful. The filling must be delicious; I do like mascarpone cheese so much.

I do a dessert with spiced cherries, but I take the pits out...what a pain that is....and it's served with a gingerbread cake, believe it or not. And a creme anglaise.

Devon said...

It is so nice to read a blog from the southern hemisphere. Right now I am typing with gloves on. What I wouldn't do for some cherries and bright light.

Trissa said...

What a lovely idea to stew cherries - that would probably also extend their shelf life? Also, your daughter with the cherry earrings is so cute!

Vanille said...

Cute little girl !
I remember a pic of my niece with cherries earrings too, so lovely !

Meagn @ FeastingonArt said...

Such cute little earrings! The cherries are pretty too, love the yellow ones.

grace said...

who knew cherries would make such stylish earrings? that makes them even more awesome. now, these tarts--never have i mourned the fact that cherries are way out of season more than i do now. those little treats are beautiful and sound just scrumptious. nice work, shaz!

shaz said...

Thanks Sarah, the girls love playing with cherry ear-rings

Thanks Lori, tasty they were!

Thanks for visiting lostpastremembered - chocolate goes well with quite a lot of things in my book :)

Shucks, thanks Hungry Dog, and we are lucky with the weather. Have to get out there and make the most of the sunshine :)

Thanks yours deliciously, I love how shiny cherries look.

Ha ha Barbara, she actually didn't sit very still at all! I snapped off a few pics before she devoured the ear-rings.
Gingerbread cake, creme anglaise and stewed cherries sound like a brilliant combo! (I used to take the cherry stones out but my cherry pitter broke and I haven't replaced it yet. I really should because I want to make cherry pie and don't want anyone to break a tooth!)

Wow Devon, that sure sounds cold! Well when the tables are turned, I'll remember this :) (Hopefully I won't need to type with gloves though)

Thanks Trissa - yes, I usually stew the fruit "overflow". Summer fruit tends to ripen so fast and we can only eat so much! Stewed cherries freeze well too.

Thanks Vanille!

Thanks Megan, the yellow ones are so pretty aren't they? Although I think the red ones tasted better.

Why Grace, every girl should own a pair of cherry ear-rings, it's all the rage :) I know what you mean though about the out of season thing...exactly how I felt last winter reading all the northern hemisphere summer posts!

Jordan said...

Awww, the last picture is the cutest thing ever! I love the earrraaaaangs.

Also, I'm going to have to confiscate one of those tarts. You know, for research.

Pierre said...

hi shaz
these cherries brings a little bit some heat as here in Paris it is so cold !! THnaks Piere