Cheery Cherries

Not everything in life is easy. Take pitting a pound or two of fresh cherries -- a real PITA (Pain In The Ass) but once you bite into this Cheery Cherry Tart it'll all be forgotten.

Today was Father's Day. Ask any dad who worried that the mother of his children would never forgive him for his part in convincing her to make him a dad. OK, so the truth is that we never forget and we do tend to talk about it in gory detail for months afterward. Especially to other new moms -- it's like comparing notes after final exams. But we don't mind so much once it's over and the babies are so loveable that most of us are willing to try it again.

Having reason to celebrate Father's Day and/or Mother's Day is worth it. Kinda like pitting cherries.

1 -1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioner sugar
Dash of salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, allowed to cool to room temperature.

Cherry Filling:
2 tablespoons corn starch
Dash of salt
3/4 cup white sugar
3-1/2 cups fresh pitted cherries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond Crisp Topping:
4 tablespoons ground almonds
1 tablespoon sweet unsalted butter, chilled
1 tablespoon biscuit mix (like Bisquick)

Grease tart pan with butter or a cooking spray, use an 8 inch or 9 inch square or round tart pan with removable bottom.

To make topping:
Pulse topping ingredients in food processer until it resembles a crumb mixture. Set aside.

To make crust:
In a medium bowl, mix extracts into butter, stir well. Set aside. Sift flour, sugar and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper or parchment. Add zest and toss well. Slowly add flour blend to butter mixture, using a wooden spoon to blend well. Add enough flour to make a soft pliable dough ball (feels like soft cookie dough). Place the pastry in the prepared tart pan evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. It's OK to use your fingers. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place the pastry crust in the refrigerator to chill.

To make cherry filling:
While crust is in refrigerator, combine salt, sugar, corn starch and cherries in a medium sauce pan. Set heat to medium, stir constantly until cherries release some of their juice. Bring to a boil still stirring constantly. Allow to bubble just 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cherries to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once cooled add extracts. Mix well. Remove crust from refrigerator and spread cherry filling over chilled crust.

Sprinkle almond crisp topping over cherries. Bake in preheated 350 degree F for 40-45 minutes or until cherries feel fork tender and juices are bubbling. Cool on a rack at least half an hour before serving. Serve warm or cold. Add a scoop of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia on the side for an extra touch of yummy.


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