While it was cherry season, I took advantage and made a cherry tart with a cream cheese filling. When I was in Las Vegas, I was lucky enough to wander into a cooking demonstration by Chef Payard at the Payard Patisserie in Caesars Palace. He demonstrated a technique to make a tart using a tart ring. He demonstrated how to use it and how when blind-baking the crust there was no need for beans or pie weights. The ring doesn’t have a bottom so the crust has to be pushed in to the sides and down just so. At the demo, the chef was able to pick up the tart ring with the crust in it and show what the bottom looks like. It then goes on a greased baking sheet. The tricky part was maneuvering the ~9 inch crust into the ring in one piece. It was challenging. I also made two 4 inch tarts and these were much easier to manipulate. I think my place was a little too warm and it might have been easier if it had been cooler. The crust recipe makes enough for two crusts, so I still have one in the freezer for the next attempt. The filling is a simple variation on a cheesecake batter and was very tasty. My party guests were clamoring for more.
Sweet Tart Dough
adapted from a Payard recipe
Makes enough for two 9-inch shells
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
227 grams sugar (1 cup + 2 Tbl)
3 egg yolks
650 grams all purpose flour (6 1/2 cups)
Make the Dough: Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until they are fully combined. With the motor running, incorporate the egg yolds and the egg one at a time. Do not add an egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. Add the flour, and mix until everything is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Remove the dough from the bowl, warp it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it is completely chilled, at least 1 or 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Prepare a tart shell: Brush the sides of a tart ring (or sides and bottom of a fluted 9-inch tart pan) with butter. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in all directions until it forms a circle about 1/4 inch thick and 10 inches in diameter. Prick the dough and turn it over and drape the dough over the rolling pin, and unroll it over the place. Gently press the dough into the pan, making sure it fits snugly. Make sure to press the bottom corners into the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, to let the dough rest.
Partially bake the tart shell: Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 F. With the tart ring, no pie weights are necessary. Bake for 12 minutes, until the tart turns slightly golden and is about three quarters of the way done. Let it cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Continue to bake for another 8 to 10 minutes for a completely baked shell.
Bing Cherry-Cheese Tart
2 cups (8 oz) cherries
2 Tablespoons amaretto
1/2 lb (250 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup (90 grams) sugar
2 whole eggs
2 Tablespoons amaretto
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Stem and pit the cherries. In a bowl, toss together the cherries and liqueur. Cover and let stand for 4 hours to blend the flavors.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. To make the cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, liqueur, and almond extract. Using an electric mix or stand mixer, beat until well combined. Distribute the cherries evenly on the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Pour the cheese mixture over the cherries. Bake until the custard is set, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, the cut into wedges and serve.