August 4, 2009

Cherry Ricotta Tart (with chocolate chunks!)

Isn't food always better with a few chunks of chocolate thrown in?

Inspired by Ben & Jerry's cherry and chocolate ice cream, and by the hundreds of plump, dark red cherries on the trees outside, with finger tips plotting together, I planned for my favourite tart so far this summer.

If you are also one who enjoys the almond-y taste of cherries then you'll be pleased to know that this wonderful taste comes from the cherry pits. For this reason I recommend including the pits in any cherry endeavour- whether it be jam, whole cherry preserves, and even guest-friendly tarts. Just be sure to tell whomever you're serving that they will indeed come across some pits!

I've used ricotta in tarts before, but the ricotta I used in the UK was smooth. Since moving back to Canada, where the store-bought ricotta is oddly closer in its grainy texture to the authentic ricotta sold in Sicily, I've wanted to make a ricotta-based tart and thought that its light sweetness would go really well in this recipe. Thinking that the tart might be a little too grainy I was anxious about the results, but it worked wonderfully. The tart filling was nicely smooth, the cherries juicy, and the chocolate soft but firm like chocolate truffles.

For the tart crust please see the previous post (Sweet Gluten-free Tart Crust)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

For the filling:

2 egg yolks
115g or 1/2 cup caster sugar
500g ricotta cheese
80-90g of dark chocolate (70%) chopped into 1cm x 1cm chunks
2 tbsp Armagnac/brandy
Big red cherries- keep whole for more flavour, or pit if you don't want the almond-y taste. Use as many cherries as required to cover the bottom of the tart dish.

For the Cherry Glaze:

Add 1/2 cup of cherry (preserve) juice and 1/2 cup sugar and cook in a small pan on low to medium heat for at least 30 minutes until it thickens slightly, then dissolve 2 tsp of cornstarch with a very small amount of water and add to the glaze while it is still cooking; stirring the entire time until the glaze thickens.

Combine egg yolks and sugar together loosely, then fold in the ricotta cheese. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly then fold in the chocolate chunks. Distribute the cherries evenly over the tart crust, then pour the ricotta mixture evenly over the top.

Bake the tart for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180°C/350°F and bake for almost 35 minutes but check the tart's progress after 30 minutes. Remove from the oven when the filling turns a light golden brown.

This tart is best served at room temperature.

Happy eating.

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