One of my summer rituals is to wait for my little sour cherry tree in our backyard to ripen and then watch the robins carry the cherries off.
It’s a little bit of a thing, this fruit tree. It’s suffered insect damage to its trunk. The deer pillaged it. And once we’d caged, pruned and protected it, it managed only a large handful of cherries for years.
But this summer, something wondrous happened. For the first time ever, our little sour cherry tree birthed a bountiful crop.Gorgeous, shiny red fruits so sweet that the girls were eating them off the tree.
The birds got their share and we picked enough (Benjamin did the pitting) for freezing later for jam and for a batch of fresh sour cherry tarts.
“Summer doesn’t count without [a sour cherry pie],” declared a recent Saveur newsletter.
Truly, there is just something about sour cherries that signal summer–and summertime eating pleasures.
Perhaps it’s the scarcity that we experienced. Or, it’s the brevity of their season. Maybe it’s the labor of picking those tiny cherries and then dealing with the pits.
I know several people who are offering an open season on their cherry tree because it’s produced more than they can handle or they don’t have time to pick and process them all.
I’ve thought about getting more cherries, but there is something to having just a little bit of a seasonal treat and savoring it. Not hoarding it.
Like these tiny tarts.
Quicker than pie.
Sour Cherry Tiny Tarts
Homemade or store-bought pie dough, frozen puff pastry--get whatever you can manage and make a small batch of rustic (that's code for easy) summer fruit tarts. You can substitute peeled, pitted and chopped peaches, nectarines or plums for the sour cherries, but reduce the sugar by half and then adjust to suit your taste.
- 1 batch pie dough, enough for 9-inch crust or frozen puff pastry
- 4 cups sour cherries, pitted
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 16 inches long and 8 inches wide. Use a pastry knife or table knife to cut the dough into 8 pieces about 4 inches square.
Toss the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl to coat thoroughly. Taste and increase the sugar if the cherries need it.
Spoon a scant 1/2 cup of fruit into the center of each dough square and fold the edges up and pinch the corners to seal. (If the dough doesn't stick, dab the dough with water.)
Bake the tarts until the crust is golden brown, 16-18 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.