Chocolate and cherries go so well together. Crumbly buttery tart shells filled with bitter-sweet dark chocolate, sweet vanilla flavoured ricotta cheese and topped with sweet and slightly tart cherries, it is indeed a beautiful combination. Just the other day I was watching Fox Traveler and Silvia Colloca was making this exceptional looking ricotta and cherry tart. There started the inspiration. She made an almond meal based pastry but I just opted for my good old shortcrust pastry recipe.
I had asked the shopkeeper from whom I buy all seasonal, exotic fruits and vegetables to tell me when he gets cherries and when I went there day before, he showed me this stunning looking packet of ruby red cherries. I had to have that pack. He gave me a couple of cherries to taste and they were perfect. Right amount of sweetness with a hint of tartness. I surely knew where these cherries were going to go! 😀
Coming back to Silvia Colloca’s recipe, I was inspired by her filling recipe but kept it very simple with just 4 ingredients. And also she made one big tart and I took that as an inspiration to make mini tarts instead. Why? Simply because mini tarts are more prettier and I find it easier when it comes to lining the tart and decorating!
Ingredients: (Makes three 4 inch mini tarts)
- Dark chocolate- 100 grams; chopped
- Fresh cherries- 250 grams; pitted
For Shortcrust Pastry–
- Plain flour/ all purpose flour- 1 cup or 125 grams
- Cold unsalted butter-85 grams; cubed
- Powdered sugar- 2 tablespoons
- Ice cold water- 2- 3 tablespoons
For Ricotta Filling–
- Ricotta cheese- 3/4 cup or 190 grams (I used homemade ricotta but you can use any store bought one as well)
- Vanilla extract- 1 teaspoon
- Single cream- 50 ml
- Icing sugar- 3 tablespoons
For Shortcrust Pastry–
Sift the plain flour into a clean, dry bowl. To it, add the cold cubes of butter. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the flour and butter against each other. Do this till you get a rough crumbly mixture. This mixture can be brought together to one extent.
At this point, you can add the sugar and gently mix it through. Make sure you do not over work the dough. Add the water one tablespoon at a time and try to bring the dough together to form a ball. ( Make sure you add just enough water so that the dough comes together and not excess of water. I used 2 1/2 tablespoons but the quantity of water may differ due to strength of flour and humidity). If it isn’t coming together properly, add a little extra water. Cover the dough with cling film and allow it to chill for a minimum of 1 hour. (I left it for 2 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 180° C. Keep three 4 inch mini tart tins ready. Divide the pastry into 3 parts. Place one part on a big piece of parchment paper. Cover with another piece of parchment paper. This will help to roll out the dough without any flour and tearing. Roll the dough into 1/8th an inch thickness. The dough should be larger than the size of the tart tin. Remove the top parchment paper and place the rolled pastry on your hand and peel off the bottom paper. Place the rolled dough on the tin. Release a little dough from the top and first press the bottom of the tin to make it sit properly and then cut off the overhanging pastry. Crimp the sides of the tart tin to give a nice look. Prick the base and sides a bit with a fork or knife. This will prevent puffing of the pastry while baking. Repeat this and line the remaining 2 tart tins as well.
Place a square of parchment paper on the lined pastry of each tin and cover it with beans or baking weights till the top and blind-bake for 5-6 minutes until it has become pale, slightly puffy and begins to take a slight colour. I used rice because I didn’t have any beans at hand but I advice you to use beans (rajma, channa or any that you have in hand) because rice a few rice grains that might fall on the pastry end up sticking to it after baking and you have to carefully remove it then and the tart base will be very fragile so avoid using rice. Also rice browns fast. Remove the baking paper and baking weights or beans . Reduce the temperature to 170° C and return the tart cases to the oven for another 7-8 minutes or until golden brown in colour. Cool the tart shell in the tin for 30-40 minutes at least, then gently take it out and place on a baking tray. For easy and hassle free removing I use tart tins with a removable base and it is really useful.
Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl or any heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water making sure the water does not touch the bowl. You can also microwave it for 30-40 seconds making sure you stir it once every 10 seconds. With a help of a spoon divide the chocolate among the three pastry shells. Use the spoon to spread the chocolate to the sides and edges of the pastry shell. Allow it to cool until the chocolate has set, about 15-20 minutes. If you are using compound chocolate it will take longer and you can keep in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to help it in setting. I used regular dark chocolate hence it took less time to set.
For The Filling–
Beat the ricotta with the cream until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Finally add the sugar and mix well.
Divide the filling among the three tarts and spread it evenly. Garnish with fresh cherries.
Serve. Best served immediately but it can be kept upto 2 days. 🙂
One advice while eating the tart only if the cherries are not pitted, keep a bit of the stalk on. So that the person can pick the cherries in that area up and eat it separately along with a bite of the tart. But I advise you to pit the cherries with a pitter for hassle free serving!