Dark Chocolate and Cherry Frangipane Tart

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes

or the special shortcrust pastry*:
300g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
112g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
100g full fat cream cheese
75g ground almonds
1 egg yolk, a little milk to bind

For the frangipane filling:
125g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
125g caster sugar
25g plain flour
125g ground almonds
1 large free-range egg, beaten
50g dark chocolate drops
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
A handful of whole cherries with stalks

Featured in:
June 2018

Juen is here and the summer, even though it’s taken its sweet time to get here, has finally arrived. The Lincolnshire countryside is at its most beautiful. The patchwork of fields is a riot of colours; acid greens, vivid yellows and golden browns and the cottage gardens are frothy with purples, pinks and reds. It’s about this time of year that I pay a visit to my secret cherry trees. They dot themselves sporadically down a quiet little lane that winds lazily through the Wolds and have generously given me their bounty over the years. The fruit isn’t usually ready until July but I like to go and make sure they’re doing well, have blossomed nicely and the little nubs of fruit are under way. I adore cherries. There’s nothing more wonderful than munching my way through a bowl of sweet, freshly picked cherries but this divinely rich frangipane tart is a good way to eat them and a wonderful preview of what’s to come…

I’m using an oblong fluted tart case which I’ve greased well with butter but any shape tin will work.

Start with the pastry – sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl, add the butter and rub until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the cream cheese, ground almonds and egg yolk, take a knife and mix until it comes together into a dough. You may need to add a little milk here, as I did. Chill the dough for at least 30 min.

Now make the frangipane filling, cream the butter, sugar, flour and almonds together, then slowly add the egg, mixing until fully incorporated. Beat in the chocolate drops and vanilla. Allow the frangipane to rest for 5 min before smoothing it inside the pastry case.

Pre-heat the oven to 170C fan.

Roll out your pastry on a very well-floured surface – I am very generous with the flour on the top and underneath this pastry – and then roll out (I adore this pastry nice and thick).

Lay the pastry into the case and gently tease it into the fluted sides and press down, then trim the edges. Spoon in the frangipane mix (should be nice and full) and level off with a palette knife, then push your cherries down into the tart.

Bake for 35 min or until golden brown – set aside on a wire rack to cool. Eat and of course, enjoy!

* This is, in my opinion, the best sweet shortcrust pastry I’ve ever eaten.The cream cheese makes it so light and the ground almonds make it deeply rich and a stunning bedfellow to this marzipan inspired tart.

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