Maraschino Cherry Tarts Maraschino Cherry Tarts

Maraschino Cherry Tarts

This may seem like a long recipe, but it can be done in stages. Take care in pitting and slicing the maraschino cherries -- they can be slippery. I recommend using a toothpick to split the cherry skin and wiggle the pit loose.

Maraschino Cherry Tarts
Kara Newman for NPR

Makes 4 large or 6 small tarts

For Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup wheat bran

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter

4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For Pastry Cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 cups milk

6 tablespoons (1/3 cup) butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 recipe basic maraschino cherries, stems and pits removed, cherries cut in half.

Crust

Combine flour, wheat bran and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch slices and add to food processor. Pulse the food processor until it looks like coarse meal.

Add a tablespoon of water, pulse, add another tablespoon, pulse again and repeat until you have several tablespoons of water in the food processor. Run the motor about 20 seconds and see if the dough comes together into a ball. If it doesn’t, add a tablespoon of ice water at a time and run the motor to see if it comes together. Once it comes together, remove the dough, form it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized balls. Flatten each with a well-floured rolling pin or the palm of your hand, and press into tart tins (4-inch diameter tart/quiche tins or 5-inch pot pie tins). Trim the edges with a knife and prick all over with a fork.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Blind bake the tart shells: Cover each with wax or parchment paper and weigh down with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crusts are firmly baked and the edges appear light golden brown. Remove the tart shells from the oven and remove the paper and dried beans or pie weights. Return the shells to the oven and bake another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the bottoms of the crusts appear light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Filling

In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt and eggs.

In a medium saucepan, bring milk to boil. Add the hot milk to the egg mixture gradually, whisking continually until mixture is smooth.

Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and return to heat. Bring it back to a boil. Continue to whisk; the mixture will thicken. As soon as you see the pastry cream boil in the center, remove it from the heat. Stir in the butter and almond extract.

Pour the pastry cream into the baked tart shells, place plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. When ready to serve the tarts, remove the plastic wrap and top with halved maraschino cherries.