Fresh Cherry and Dark Chocolate Tart

A challenge was issued last week to make something delicious with a giant bag of fresh cherries offered to me by the marketing team over at Whole Foods in Hadley! Let me tell you... such a treat!!

But what to make, what to make? I have always been a hater of all things cherry-flavored... so I didn't want to make anything too sweet as that pie-filling sort of flavor can come out with too much sugar.

Originally I had wanted to make something like this but with homemade cherry and lime ice creams, graham cracker, and dark chocolate/coconut ganache. However, the heat (and HUMIDITY) wave hitting Western Mass last week had other plans. So I'll be filing that idea for another time... And instead, I decided on a Fresh Cherry and Dark Chocolate Tart. Cherries and chocolate, always a crowd pleaser, right? I had a lot of barbeques to attend this past weekend, so it worked out great! Definitely head over to Whole Foods and grab some cherries while they last- so yummy. And while you're at it, participate in their 1st annual customer recipe contest for "Cherry Fest!"

Just in case you are wanting to make this decadent (and vegan!) treat for yourself... Here's a rough recipe:

3/4 c graham cracker (coarsely ground)
1/4 c almond meal
1/4 c sugar
1 T honey (or rice syrup, if strict vegan)
1/4 c canola oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 c dark chocolate, chopped (or semi sweet chocolate chips)

3/4 lb fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
1 lime, juiced (save the two halves!)
1/2 c sugar

1/2 c coconut milk
1/2 bag dark chocolate, chopped (or semi sweet chocolate chips) 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T maple syrup

1/2 lb fresh cherries, pitted and slice in half

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F). Heat the honey (or rice syrup) and canola oil on low on the stove or for 1 minute in the microwave until the honey/syrup has thinned out a bit. Whisk to combine. Then combine the oil/honey and all of the remaining crust ingredients (minus chocolate) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Using your fingers, press mixture into a lightly greased 9" pie plate. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (be careful not to burn!). Cool on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler and pour into the cooled graham crust. Spread (carefully- the graham can mix into the chocolate if not done delicately) over the bottom of the crust. Then let harden. This will help seal the crust so that it doesn't get soggy!

Next, combine the filling ingredients in a sauce pan (including the two lime halves) and cook over medium heat until the cherries start to break down and the mixture begins to look thick. Then let cool.

This is "thick" filling texture!

In the meantime, add coconut milk to another sauce pan and heat on low/medium heat until it begins to steam (don't let it boil!). Add chocolate, vanilla, and maple syrup and mix (off the heat) until the chocolate is completely melted. Set side and let cool.

Pour the filling into the pie plate, on top of the hardened chocolate. Spread evenly.

Once ganache is cool, pour that on top of the filling. Place the halved cherries for garnish in a decorative pattern atop the ganache- I chose to spiral mine.

Put the completed tart into the fridge and let set for at least 2 hours.

I do suggest a slightly smaller piece- SO chocolatey!

(all photo credit: Tyler Gorman)

Voila! And ENJOY!