Cherries and almonds are an easy flavor combination; they’re botanically related, though distant cousins, and the perfume of almonds is a perfect complement to the tartness of sour cherries.
When baking the cookie dough crust, don’t let the nut biscuit get more than lightly golden; the tart needs to bake again to crisp the meringue topping.
Makes one 10-inch tart, 8 to 10 servings
One 10-inch tart crust made from French-Style Cookie Dough (see below) spread with a Almond Biscuit Batter (see below), fully baked
1 quart/2 pounds sour cherries, rinsed, stemmed, and pitted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
- For the cherry filling, combine the cherries, any accumulated juices, the sugar, and almond extract in a nonreactive saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Mix the cornstarch and water and stir in 1/2 cup of the hot cherry juices. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir the cornstarch mixture into the filling.
- Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the filling thickens, comes to a boil, and turns clear, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape the filling into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly against the surface, and cool it to room temperature.
- Set a rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 325°F.
- For the almond meringue, half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile whisk the egg whites, salt, and sugar together by hand in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the mixer bowl over the pan of boiling water and whisk gently but constantly until the egg whites are hot (140°F) and the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the meringue on medium-high speed until the egg whites have risen in volume but are still creamy in texture. Overwhipping will make the meringue dry and grainy.
- While the meringue is whipping, spread the cooled cherry filling into the tart crust.
- Once the meringue is whipped, fold in the sliced almonds by hand. Spread the meringue over the cherry filling, making sure to touch the meringue to the side of the tart crust all around. Sprinkle with the reserved almonds
- Bake the tart until the meringue is crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Cool the tart on a rack, unmold it, and slide it onto a platter to serve.
FRENCH-STYLE COOKIE DOUGH
Makes enough for 2 large tarts
8 ounces/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
2 large egg yolks
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
- Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar on the lowest speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well mixed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until lightened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the extracts, then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition until the mixture is smooth.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and beater and beat in the flour mixture on the lowest speed.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead it together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth.
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces, form them into disks, and wrap each one in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.
- To bake, roll the dough and place in a pie pan. Chill while you preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the Almond Biscuit Batter (see below) into the crust. Bake until the dough is golden and baked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
ALMOND BISCUIT BATTER
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground almonds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Whisk the flour and sugar together in a medium bowl; add the eggs and whisk smooth.
- Whisk in the salt and vanilla, then use a small rubber spatula to fold in the nuts and butter.