To be embraced by the warm aroma of caramel and butter and the music that is beautiful, reposeful silence – that’s my happy place, my dream world, the dimension in which my consciousness resides that is hazily tethered to reality solely by a strand of silken thread. It’s where I go to disconnect, this crystal bubble from which I can plainly see the swirling dark clouds of responsibilities pressing urgently up against the outside walls. But not now, not today. There is a tranquility more precious than emeralds, and I let it reverberate through my mind for what I hope will be psychological eternity.
The sound of nothingness is lovely.
I hope that everyone has their own happy place. I hope that this space I’m creating is someone’s happy place. Not everyone is suited to the modern lifestyle of constant connectivity – at least I know I’m not.
This is my escape, or specifically, was one episode of my escape. I made these tartlets on a day when I needed to occupy my hands with the monotony of slicing and uniformly arranging cherries, which on another day might seem like a much less appealing task. The aroma that wafted throughout the kitchen while these were baking in the oven was like a comforting hug and the caramelly-butteriness of the shortbread-like tart crust is unforgettable.
For a few hours, everything was okay – more than okay.
Cherry Almond Tartlets
makes five 2.5 inch tartlets
For the tart dough:
102 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams icing sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
64 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 large egg yolk
For the filling:
42 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
66 grams sugar
37 grams almond flour
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 egg, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
cherries, pitted and halved
Make the tart dough: Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely. Add in the egg and pulse to combine. Press the dough evenly into the tartlet molds. Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C. Bake for about 20 minutes. Press the crust down with the back of a spoon if it has puffed up during baking. Set aside to cool in the molds.
Make the filling: Beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another minute or two. Add the almond flour and cornstarch and beat until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the egg, then the vanilla. Refrigerate for about an hour before using.
Assemble the tart: Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the tartlet molds with the partially baked crusts onto a baking sheet. Evenly divide the filling amongst the crusts. Arrange the halved cherries on top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is a golden brown shade. Remove tartlets from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Recipe adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.