Thyme For Dessert
The last few cherries in the bowl were starting to look as if they needed eating - a little wrinkly here, a soft spot there. It was time to get serious about making something from them before they became just so much compost.
I wasn't in the mood for clafoutis, even though the idea of trying it with the pits left in has been a temptation ever since I learned last cherry season that it's traditional. Eggy just wasn't appealing. And I didn't want a cherry pie - too sweet and too much pitting to contemplate on a laid back sort of a day. Fruit and cheese came to mind - and stuck.
I cruised the interwebs without a lot of success. Some recipes had parts that sounded good but other parts that made me shake my head. Finally, I decided it was time to take my courage in both hands and invent.
Here's what I came up with - cherry and goat cheese tart with thyme. I have no idea why that combination sounded appealing but it did and by some minor miracle I had all the ingredients that were bouncing around in my head actually in my house. I rolled out some store bought puff pastry and spread it with a mixture of goat cheese and cream, dotted it with halved, pitted cherries, sprinkled it with fresh thyme from the garden and slid it into a moderate oven.
The result was a really lovely dessert, not very sweet at all - in fact, the cherries seemed to lose sweetness in the baking - but complex and interesting and savory with just a whisper of sweetness. The thyme flavor was unexpected and novel and I liked it - I'd do that again for sure.
We had a piece before leaving to walk the dog and it was so good that we had another piece a few hours later for dessert. I took the rest over to my neighbor next door - just to get it out of the house - and then sat around thinking, "Man, I wish I had another piece of that tart!"
Cherry and Goat Cheese Tart with Thyme
About 2 dozen cherries, pitted and halved
1/2 cup whipping cream
3-4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Frozen puff pastry, 1/2 package (I use DuFour brand - it's much the best)
1-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Pit and halve the cherries and set aside. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured board with a floured rolling pin - just a few strokes - the resulting rectangle should measure roughly 8" x 10". Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pastry on the paper. Trace a line with the tip of a knife one inch in from the edge of the pastry all the way around - don't cut through the pastry, just incise a line. Inside the line you've just incised, prick the pastry all over with a fork. Set aside or, if the pastry is getting too warm, stick it in the fridge to cool down while you prepare the cheese.
In a medium size bowl, beat the cream with an electric beater until it is loosely whipped and holding very soft peaks. Crumble in the goat cheese with the whipped cream and continue beating until the cheese is combined well and the resulting mixture can be spread with a knife - perhaps 30 seconds.
Drop blobs of the cheese mixture evenly onto the pastry, then spread with a knife to coat the whole pastry to about 1/4" thick. Place the cherries cut side down on top of the cheese mixture and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes, until the crust is richly browned and the cherries soften. Slide the parchment paper with the tart aboard onto a wire rack to cool.
I don't know how well it keeps as it didn't last long once we started eating it.