Pierre Herme’s Cherry-Pistachio Tart: The Recipe

The recipe calls for two other recipes to be at the ready: pate brisee or tart dough, and pastry cream, which can be replaced by crème fraiche.  You have recipes for both of these in either Desserts by Pierre Herme or Baking From My Home to Yours.  (In Baking, use the Sweet Tart Dough on page 446 — increase the recipe by 50% if you’re going to make a 10 1/2 inch tart.)  Of course you can use any tart dough you’d like. 

As is true of almost all French tarts, this one is baked in a tart ring, a metal circle that’s a scant 3/4 inch/scant 2 cm high.  Tart rings are just that, rings, so they have no bottoms.  You place the ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, you put the tart dough on the lined baking sheet, run it up the sides of the ring, prick the base and trim the dough even with the top of the ring.  You can make this tart in a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, but the sides will be a little higher, so the filling might not come up to the top of the pan – hardly a tragedy.

Pierre uses two types of cherries in the tart: black cherries, our regular sweet cherries; and Morello cherries, a sour cherry.  If you can’t find fresh or frozen Morello or sour cherries, use griottes packed in syrup or Kirsch.  Do this, and, if you’d like, you can skip the overnight maceration – just drain the cherries and pat them dry before proceeding.

For the almond-pistachio cream, Pierre uses 2 drops of bitter almond extract, a product that is almost impossible to find in the States – correct me, please, if I’m wrong.  You can find imitation bitter almond extract, but artificial flavoring is not what you want here.  My suggest is to either skip it or to add a teensy bit of pure (regular) almond extract.

Pastry flour is one of the ingredients in the streusel, but I’ve made this streusel with Pierre Herme and we used all-purpose flour and it was still so, so very delicious.  And while we’re on the streusel – after you mix it together, you can gather it together into a ball.  In The Cook’s Book, there’s a wonderful picture of the dough being pushed through the square grates of a cooling rack.  It’s a nifty technique for turning the clump of dough into chunky streusel.  When I worked with Pierre on this recipe, we chilled the mixture for 45 minutes and then used our fingers to break it into unevenly sized pieces.

NOTE:  Brenda left a comment saying that the streusel doesn’t make a quantity ample enough to cover the surface of a 10 1/2 inch tart and she’s right.  When I checked the amount of streusel we used for the 8 3/4 inch Philadelphia Almond Cake, I found that the measurements were pretty much the same.  So, if you want a thick coating of streusel, I’d suggest that you double the amounts listed below.  (Technically, you want to increase the recipe by 2/3s.)  You might have some left over, but if you love streusel, that’s better than not having enough.  Thank you, Brenda.

I think that’s it – oh, except for making the pistachio paste in a mortar and pestle.  A mortar and pestle is really the best way to go with this, but if you don’t have one (oh, you should), you could try a food processor (a mini if you’ve got it).

I just realized that the annotation is longer the recipe.  I guess I got a little carried away.


Adapted from The Cook’s Book, Editor-in-Chief, Jill Norman

Makes a 10 1/2 in (26 cm) tart

1 lb 2 oz (500g) fresh or thawed, frozen Morello cherries, pitted (about 3 cups)
6 1/2 tablespoons (80g) granulated sugar
Scant 10 oz (300g) pate brisee (tart dough)
10 oz (300g) fresh or thawed, frozen black cherries, pitted (about 2 cups)

For the almond pistachio cream:

1/2 cup (50g) skinned pistachios
2 drops bitter almond extract
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (125g) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups (125g) ground almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons (12.5g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon Kirsch
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons (25g) skinned pistachios, crushed
1/2 cup pastry cream or 2/3 cup crème fraiche

For the streusel:

(NOTE: To get a thick layer of streusel, like the one in the picture, you have to double the amount listed below.  [You might have a little left over.] Thank you Brenda for pointing this out.)

3 1/2 tablespoons (50g) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (50g) ground almonds
6 1/2 tablespoons (50g) pastry flour
Pinch of ground green cardamom
Pinch of salt (fleur de sel)

Toss the Morello cherries with the sugar in a bowl, then let macerate overnight.  The next day, an hour before you are going to use them, drain the cherries.

For the Almond Pistachio Cream:  Pound the pistachios with the almond extract in a mortar with a pestle to form a paste.  Place the butter in a food processor and blend until creamy.  Gradually add, one at a time, the pistachio paste, confectioners’ sugar, ground almonds, cornstarch, Kirsch, eggs, crushed pistachios and pastry cream or crème fraiche.  Mix slowly.  Place the pistachio cream in a shallow bowl and cover the surface closely with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate while you make the streusel.

For the Streusel:  Combine the butter, sugar, ground almonds, flour, ground cardamom and a pinch of salt in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips.  Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.  The put the streusel on a wire rack and press through to make small pieces.  Return to the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).  Butter a 10 1/2 inch (26cm) tart pan.  Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface and use to line the pan.  Spread a thin layer of almond pistachio cream over the bottom of the tart shell.  Cover with the Morello cherries, then sprinkle over the black cherries.  Cover with the remaining pistachio cream.

Place the tart in the oven.  After 10 minutes of baking, remove the tart and sprinkle the streusel over the top.  Return the tart to the oven and bake for 15 – 30 minutes longer.  Let cool, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Dorie Greenspan