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This double-chocolate cherry tart is rich and decadent, and best served warm from the oven. Photo: Koji Studio

How to make double chocolate cherry tarts: a great way to use up cherries that are going soft

  • With chocolate in both the pastry and the ganache, these cherry tarts are rich and indulgent
  • You can make them in advance, but they are better served warm from the oven

I love cherries, and when I find really good ones in the market – the large, sweet and crunchy types – I eat them on their own. Often, though, the cherries are soft, and these I tend to use in dessert recipes.

Double-chocolate cherry tarts

These rich tarts have chocolate both in the crust (in the form of unsweetened cocoa powder) and in the kirsch-flavoured ganache. You can assemble them in advance, but I think they taste better when the ganache and cherry filling are warm.

The chocolate crust recipe is adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible (1998), by Rose Levy Beranbaum. You will need six tart pans with removable bases, about 10cm in diameter and 2cm deep (you can use smaller pans; just adjust the amount of ganache and cherry filling in each one).

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For the dough:

200 grams (7oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling the dough

25 grams (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

¼ tsp fine sea salt

90 grams (½ cup and 4 tbsp) icing sugar

120 grams (4¼oz) unsalted butter, chilled

1 large egg, chilled

1 tsp vanilla extract

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For the filling:

600 grams (21oz) fresh cherries

30 grams (2 tbsp) granulated sugar, or to taste

15ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon juice, or to taste

For the ganache:

120ml (½ cup) cream

170 grams (6oz) bittersweet chocolate (with a cacao content of 60-70 per cent)

15ml (1 tbsp) kirsch (or use brandy or cognac)

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1 Make the dough. Cut the chilled butter into 1cm cubes. Whisk the egg with the vanilla extract.

2 Put the flour, cocoa powder, salt and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

3 Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

4 Transfer the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the egg mixture. Use your fingertips to work the egg mixture into the dry ingredients to create a cohesive dough.

5 Briefly knead the dough, then flatten it into a disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

6 If the dough is very hard, remove it from the fridge and leave at room temperature until it is pliable, but still cool.

7 Unwrap the dough and lay it on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the dough with flour, then roll it out about 3mm thick. As necessary, sprinkle flour on the work surface and the dough to prevent it from sticking.

8 Cut the dough into circles about 2cm larger than the tart pans. Ease the circles into the contours of the pans, trying not to stretch the dough.

9 Double over the dough at the edges to reinforce the sides, then press firmly with your thumbs so it adheres. Use a sharp knife to cut off any excess dough hanging over the edge.

10 Refrigerate the tart shells for at least 30 minutes. (The leftover scraps of dough should be kneaded together briefly, flattened into a disc, then wrapped in cling film. It keeps in the fridge for at least two weeks, and can be used to make miniature tarts.)

11 Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the chilled tart shells on a baking tray. Use squares of aluminium foil – cut so they are slightly larger than the tart pans – to line the shells, pressing them into the contours.

12 Bake the tart shells for 10 minutes at 190 degrees C (375 degrees F).

If the centre of the shells puff up, press on the foil slowly and gently to deflate the dough without tearing it. Remove the foil and turn the heat to 180 degrees C (355 degrees F).

Bake for five to 10 more minutes, or until the tart shells are fragrant and the surface is matt, not shiny. Take the shells out of the oven and cool them to room temperature.

13 Make the cherry filling. Set aside six stem-on cherries for the garnish. Cut the remaining cherries in half and remove the pits.

14 Put the pitted cherries in a skillet with the sugar and stir over a low flame until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat, add the lemon juice and cook until the cherries are tender but not mushy – they should retain their shape.

15 Use a slotted spoon to remove the cherries from the pan, then continue to simmer the cherry juice until it thickens slightly. Put the cherries back into the pan, stir to coat them with the liquid and turn off the flame.

16 Just before it’s time to serve dessert, make the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate, then put it into a medium-size mixing bowl.

17 Heat the cream until it simmers, then pour it over the chocolate. Leave undisturbed for about three minutes, then start to slowly whisk the mixture, mixing the cream into the chocolate a little at a time. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and shiny, then stir in the kirsch (or brandy or cognac).

18 Quickly heat the cherry mixture until simmering.

19 Place the six tart shells on individual serving plates. Spoon about 50 grams of warm ganache into each shell, then divide the cherry filling over the ganache. Top each portion with a fresh cherry and serve immediately.

Styling: Rachael Macchiesi