Kirsch was originally made from Morello cherries, grown in the Black Forest, in Germany, although it is now made from many varieties of cherry. Where I come from in eastern France, kirsch is a specialty of a town called Fougerolles. It is a clear fruit brandy made with a doubledistillation of whole cherries, hence the slight taste of bitter almond. That hint of bitterness is just what we are looking for in this tart, for which we are using almonds, cherries, of course, and a lovely sabayon made with this beautiful eaux de vie. On top of the nutty crunchiness of the pastry, all these elements are from the same note—the almond! This dessert is best enjoyed warm as it releases all those wonderful flavors. But when I finished I thought something was missing, and it was a spoonful of creamy vanilla or almond ice cream!
– PREPARATION TIME 40 minutes, plus 50 minutes chilling.
– COOKING TIME 20 minutes.
– FOR THE SWEET PASTRY DOUGH.
– grated zest of ½ blood orange.
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft, plus extra for greasing (optional).
– a pinch salt.
– ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar.
– ¼ cup very finely ground blanched almonds.
– 1 egg.
– 1⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.
– FOR THE ALMOND CREAM.
– 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft.
– ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar.
– ¾ cup ground blanched almonds.
– 3 eggs.
– 1 tablespoon kirsch.
– FOR THE TOPPING.
– 1½ cups cherries, pitted and halved or quartered, depending on size.
– ⅓ cup slivered almonds.
– Real Vanilla Ice Cream, to serve.
Step 2: Grease eight 3½-inch loose-bottomed individual tartlet pans, about 1½ inches deep, with a little butter if they are not nonstick. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until it is ⅛ inch thick, then cut out eight circles, each about 7 inches in diameter. One at a time, roll each pastry circle over the rolling pin and lift over a tartlet pan. With one hand, lift the dough edge and with the other, gently tuck the dough into the bottom and side of the pan so it fits tightly. Don’t overstretch the dough or it’ll break; just gently push out any bubbles. Trim off any excess dough by rolling the pin over the top edge of the pan. Prick the bottoms with a fork and chill 30 minutes to prevent the dough shrinking during baking.
Step 3: Heat the oven to 315°F. To make the almond cream, beat together the butter, sugar and ground almonds in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, or in a food mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time so the mixture doesn’t split. Add the kirsch, then mix 8 to 10 minutes until very light and smooth. Divide the mixture into the dough cases, taking care to leave a good ½ inch clear from the top of the dough. Cover the mixture with the cherry pieces (if you really feel like it, you can arrange them perfectly, but random is fine!) and sprinkle slivered almonds on top of each. Place the tartlet pans on a cookie sheet.
Step 4: Bake 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted through the deepest part comes out clean. If not, return the tartlets it to the oven 3 to 5 minutes longer and check again. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.