Chocolate Cherry Tartlets

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It’s been a while since I posted something sweet. To be exact, I have one dessert recipe on here so far. Maybe you can tell, but I’m not much of a baker or have a particularly sweet tooth. But the other day, looking at the frozen section at a supermarket made me think about using frozen fruits in winter. I usually have a bag of frozen raspberry and strawberries in my freezer for smoothies, but I have never noticed the cherries in the supermarket. There are many jars of canned and sweetened cherries in German supermarkets but frozen ones sounded much better to bake with. They are, of course, unsweetened and natural, and pitted (!!). You have no idea how many summers I have contemplated baking a cherry pie but gave up because that meant either A. going to a shop and buying a cherry pitter or B. pitting the cherries with my bare hands. Both didn’t sound too appealing to me, so I always ended up eating them just as they are. The climate in Germany isn’t right for growing great peaches, apricots, watermelons and nectarines, but let me say, german cherries rock.  The first time I tasted cherries here was at a BBQ party after a friend’s final recital many years ago. Her parents brought a huge bucket full (not joking) of cherries from their garden. I think I might have eaten at least a third of that bucket (also not joking). One can assume of course, that I had a  slight tummy ache the next day from gluttony. It was worth it though.

Today’s recipe is a combination of all things cherries should be paired up with. Chocolate, orange, and almond. I had a box of marzipan in the fridge from my dear friend Dobi who brought it as a gift from Lübeck. It was definitely a clever gift because she knows I love to cook, and I prefer something that I can use in the kitchen rather than a box of chocolate with marzipan. The crust for this tart is the usual tart crust plus unsweetened cocoa powder to enrich the chocolate experience even more. Next time I make this again, I will stir in the marzipan in the last minute so it retains its shape a bit. I added the marzipan to the cherries too early so they melted away. I like little bites of marzipan here and there.

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As Valentine’s Day is coming up, maybe some of you would want something delicious and rich like these tartlets to eat with your loved ones. I won’t be really doing anything with my boyfriend, because we are not really the ones to celebrate it. I’ll probably curl up on the couch and watch the new season of House of Cards which happens to come out on the 14th. (Huuraaaah!!). In any case, whatever you are doing, happy cooking and/or have a fun Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Cherry Tartlets 

Note: It is important to fill the tartlet cases with blind-baking beans to prevent the dough from shrinking in the oven while baking. A 500g bag of cheap dried beans or dried peas would do the job.  If you have a jar of pennies, it would work just as well. 

Makes 4 12cm round tartlets, or one 20-22cm tart (one of these tartlets will probably serve two people unless you are greedy)

For the Crust,

115g all-purpose flour

65g rye flour (or substitute with more all-purpose flour)

50g unsweetened dutch-pressed cocoa powder (I used this for example)

3 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

120g cold butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

Zest of 1 orange

2 Tbsp cold water

For the filling, (inspired by Ruby Tandoh’s recipe on the Guardian a few weeks back)

500g frozen sour cherries

70g sugar

70g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped

100g marzipan, cut into small cubes

2 Tbsp orange juice

1.5 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp corn starch

To serve: whipped cream, chocolate shavings

1. Make the crust.  In a food processor with a blade attachment, add the flours, sugar, salt, orange zest and cocoa powder. Pulse 4-5 times to combine.

2. Add the cubed (cold!) butter. Pulse 6-7 times until the flour resembles sand and pebbles. Add the egg yolk and cold water. Pulse 6-7 times again until the dough comes together when you pinch a small amount between your fingers. Tip out the dough onto a surface or a large bowl. Knead 2-3 times (very quickly) just to gather the dough. Divide the dough into 4. Wrap them individually in a cling wrap film. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor, you can cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry scraper. Make sure to work quickly, and preferably with an open kitchen window, as coldness is essential in a tart recipe.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Roll out the tart dough with a sprinkle of flour to prevent from sticking. Line the tartlet cases with the rolled out dough. Prick the bottoms of the tartlet cases a couple of times. Line the top of the dough with baking paper. Fill the tartlet pans with blind baking beans or pennies. (see recipe note) Bake for 2o minutes.

4. Take the blind baking beans out and bake the tartlet cases for 5 minutes further. Let the tartlet cases cool down completely.

5. Make the filling. Over a medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, add the frozen cherries, sugar, lemon and orange juice. Stir around until the cherries are thawed and start to release their juices. Add the chocolate and marzipan and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low. Add the corn starch and stir until the cherries thicken.

6. Fill the cooled tartlet cases with the filling. Chill the tartlets in the fridge or on your balcony. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and shavings of chocolate.

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