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Full confession:  I didn’t grow up eating cherries. Not a one. In fact, I can’t remember ever having a fresh cherry when I was a kid. The only thing I can remember was the woefully unoriginal idea of cherry: cherry soda, canned cherry filling, maraschino cherries, cherry cough drops, cherry candy, cherry air freshener (ick!), etc. That bizarre red unidentifiable flavor that tries to be a cherry but can’t quite reach its goal. I have no doubt you know what I’m talking about.

Fake cherry.

I fault no one, and we all know necessity is the mother of invention. How else were the masses supposed to enjoy the bright happy zing of a cherry throughout the year? There’s only one problem though–cherry flavor is nothing like a real cherry.

There. I said it. I got it off my chest.

Unlike citrus and tropical fruits,  cherries are modest with their flavor. They don’t fill up a room with perfume and they don’t knock you over and give you a puckerface. And therein lies their beauty. Those little crimson globes are delightful as is, sweet and juicy with a fleeting flavor that can truly be appreciated when fresh.

And not in a cough syrup.

Because that artificial cherry thing is imprinted on my brain I am a little gun shy when it comes to cherries. It’s only been the past few years that I have learned to love them and only in their fresh state. I’ll pass on the Cherry Garcia and smile politely if you offer me a chocolate covered cherry (it’s that goo, no thanks!). But I’ll never turn down a fresh cherry.

In my convoluted and twisted ‘lil opinion I believe that cherries lose their magic when cooked (but I will make an exception with a properly prepared clafouti, thankyouverymuch). You get this nice yet not so fantastic flavor when their flesh has been cooked down to mush and that’s why I like cooking them as little as possible. I realize I may be going against popular opinion here, and hey,  I’m cool with that.

My wonderful partner knows I’ll never earn the title "World’s Greatest Cherry-Lovin’ Mexican" and was quite excited to stumble upon a recipe in this month’s Everyday Food. They call it a tart, but it’s not really a tart as much as a semi-trashy dessert with raw cherries on top. Hurray! Raw! And please, it’s not my intention to offend, but you must admit this recipe is very 1970’s Melba-Toast-Eatin’-Mom. Perhaps you’ll want to sit in a bean bag and play some Linda Ronstadt while you enjoy it.

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Fresh Cherry Tart from Everyday Food, June 2007

9 graham crackers, each 2 1/2 by 5 inches
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound fresh sweet cherries, such as Bing, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar until finely ground. Add butter, and process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using the base of a dry measuring cup, firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan. Baked until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add cream, and beat until soft peaks form; spread mixture in cooled crust. Scatter cherries on top.

3. In a small saucepan, combine jam and 1 teaspoon water; heat over low until liquefied, about 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, dab cherries with glaze. Refrigerate tart at least 30 minutes or, covered, up to 1 day.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m with you on the cherry front. Fresh is best. And plain is even better. Unless you’re talking sour cherries, which must be cooked, but they’re not the same thing. Pretty, pretty photos.

  2. Kate G. says

    Dear Matt,
    I think you should develop a podcast. Maybe just begin monthly so it is not a big time suck from your regular work. Just an idea. Would love to hear you speak on all this stuff and you could interview people you like, too!
    Kate

  3. says

    I hate fake cherry – attributable to a compound called benzaldehyde, which you probably already know is used to impart almond flavors (when used at a different concentration). Sweet fresh cherries are the best, though. Nothing else says summer like a bowl of slightly chilled cherries and a glass of lemonade.

  4. says

    You have the most beautiful blog! I do have vivid memories of eating cherries growing up, but having to deal with the pits always annoyed me, so I’ve shyed away from them. But this tart just might reel me back in! : )

  5. says

    That is one gorgeous tart. I was lucky enough to grow up eating cherries from my Grandparents’ orchard, I love cherry season.

  6. says

    Man, that tarte looks delish! Unfortunately after a warm winter & lots of rain at the beginning of the month, we’re lacking cherries this season. The french ones which make it to my local market have a steep price tag on them.

  7. says

    Matt, similar to you, I discovered fresh cherries later in life. And it was love at first bite. When cherries are in season, I’ve been known to eat a big bowl of it in one seating. Even after I cracked a tooth when I bit into a cherry pit, my obsession with cherries continues…

  8. says

    Hi Matt, you have an excellent blog.

    Fortunately, I grew up eating cherries but not the kind shown in this post. The cherries we get here in the Caribbean, each has at least 4 seeds. If you’re interested, I can get a pic and send it to you.

    Our cherries are tart and often used to make drink which is very high in vitamin C. Some people like to sprinkle some salt and chillies and eat it.

  9. says

    I SO AGREE WITH YOU…CHERRY FALVOUR TASTES NOTHING LIKE CHERRY !!!!!!and thats why i never go for anything but the real stuff even if it means waiting the year round to get it ! and my that tart looks just fantastic….truly perfect !

  10. says

    Like you I did not taste a real cherry until I was in college. Cherries was only a cough syrup flavor. However, last summer I fell in love with them- rainer, bing, sour, all delicious. The tart will have to wait though. I have too many peaches.

  11. Jennywenny says

    I’m currently trying to think of a reason to make that tart, it looks unbelievable. Especially the crust. Mmmm. We brits use ‘digestive biscuits’ but I reckon its pretty much the same thing. I’m going to be obsessing over that until I can make it!!

  12. says

    Yesterday, eating my first bunch of fresh cherries this year, I starting craving some kind of cherry recipe (I have never cooked with them) and then today, wah lah, I found this one! I’ll have to try it! Thanks

  13. says

    I love Golden Rainier cherries. The delicate floral sweetness blows my mind. I gobble those babies up… mm.

  14. says

    i do love cherries. i did not eat them much when i was growing up though. my grama lupe had this thing that if you eat cherries with a dairy product, it makes them poisonous. seriously. anyway, now i live here in the pacific northwest and in the summer they have all these little stands on the side of the road everywhere, and they sell cherries! i HAVE to stop and get some every time! and now that my daughter saw this movie with jennifer aniston, where this lady buys berries from a roadside stand, and then gets sick and dies…well, here we go again! LOL! i’m printing off your recipe to make the first time i see them at one of the stands…soon, i hope!

  15. says

    OH sweet memories of Champs Cherry soda…
    And those little Tasty Cake cherry pies oblong packages..
    I did grow up eating real Queen Anne cherries from our garden and you’re absolutely correct – the tastes are soooo different. Somehow the idea of that cherry soda was so seductive.

  16. sciencegeek says

    Visiting my grandparents in central PA, my family wandered into a cherry festival in a small town a few years ago. Cherry fritters. Sigh. I might have to go back sometime soon.

  17. says

    Matt, I had similar cherry issues as a child, so I too have only come to cherries in the previous few years. Now, I’m obsessed. What excites me most is eyeing the cherry tree in our neighbours front yard — sometimes the benefits of moving don’t make themselves apparent immediately. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were treated to the stunning sight of a cherry tree covered in blossoms. I looked this evening, and I notice tiny green fruit starting to appear on the boughs. Sweeeeet!!!

  18. says

    I hate fake cherry too! But I love fresh cherries, I can eat them by the pound. The tart is beautiful, I saw the recipe in my copy of Everyday Food too.

  19. bsh says

    have you tried dried cherries (like raisin-style — for lack of a better descr)? we love the dried cherries dipped in cherry pastel and then chocolate. they’re like crack! haha. fresh is fantastic too, but harder to come by great fresh ones since moving from seattle. :(

    thanks for a fab blog!
    ~ bsh

  20. J. Wade says

    I had the most amazing bowl of Frog Hollow cherries last Friday at Chez Panisse Cafe!

  21. says

    hey matt, it was sorta the same for me. No cherry tress in tropical malaysia. I remembered having my first cherries in Michigan. They were heavenly – bing cherries. Used to always get a huge bag on those farms on my way to the beach at Lake Michigan. x k

  22. andrea says

    i made this tart right when i got my Everyday Food… i love it!!! so easy, fresh, and different… rich and creamy but still kind of light. i found your site because a friend asked for the recipe and i googled to see if anyone had already typed it up! thank you! i’m looking forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

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