This is what happens when bright, sweet summer cherries–wholesome little things–go to the dark side. They start to hang around dark chocolate, that saucy beast, and tangy, biting vinegar. Their dad is already Googling reform schools.
I like them like this, though (as long as they stay out of fruit jail–fruit bail is totally expensive these days).
Of course, the tangy, deep, balsamic-soaked cherries are just (literally) the cherry on top. There are many good things going on here… The crust is sturdy, cookielike and generous. We need to be generous with all cookielike things. The filling is plain ricotta, gently sweetened and fragranced with just a touch of vanilla.
The cherries and the vinegar, though… Them’s the showstoppers. All deep sweetness and generous balsamic bite.
You can’t get away from gorgeous, plump, ripe cherries these days. Not that I’d ever try.
A cherry pitter is helpful here…. Maybe. I haven’t decided, honestly. Inevitably, the pitter will miss a few here and there, so I usually count after I pit. Number of cherries vs. the number of pits: rarely are they the same. Of course, if you halve them like I did, you won’t miss any stray ones.
A little sugar and a lot of balsamic. I only used about 3 cups of berries, but I recommend you bump this up to 4–for full tart coverage and for deliciousness.
So bubbly! So juicy.
The crust is a simple one: process, dump, press into a pan. You’ll definitely want to try some–at least I did. Is that weird? Everyone eats cookie dough, and this is pretty much the same thing.
The bottom of this is almost as thick a layer as the filling, actually, and I doubt you’ll mind.
Sometimes I forget about ricotta, but it’s so lovely. I debated using goat cheese here (NATCH), and someday I think I’ll try it, but for now, the simple gentle creaminess of good old ricotta and cream cheese will do.
It’s really just a creamy, dreamy pillow for the cherries.
They look so peaceful on there… Or maybe it’s the wine I was helping myself to. Wine = Gatorade for food photography. ”Is it in you?” YES, and it wants more wine.
I dunno about you guys… But my summer dreams have come true.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Generous pinch of salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15-oz container of whole milk ricotta
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt
For cherry topping:
4 cups pitted, halved fresh sweet cherries (I used only about 3 cups–note that it looks a little skimpy)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
To make the crust, pulse flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor just until bleded; add butter and keep pulsing until the butter is incorporated and the dough starts to stick together. Add water and pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Press dough into bottom and sides of an 11-inch (or so) tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill for 30 minutes. Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven until slightly puffed–about 18 minutes–and cool completely on a rack.
To make the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower speed to low and mix in ricotta, eggs and salt until just combined.
Pour the filling into the tart shell, smooth top and bake until a little puffed on the edges and just set in the middle, 15-18 minutes. The center will still jiggle a bit. Cool completely on a rack, then cover with plastic and chill until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.
To make the topping, cook cherries, vinegar and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thick and bubbly, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and chill completely.
When tart and topping are completely chilled, remove from tart pan and top with cherries using a slotted spoon (you may or may not want all of the liquid that’s in there–use your judgment, and reserve the extra for spooning on top of individual servings if you wish). Serve chilled or at room temperature.