Earl Grey Cherry Tart

A while ago, I made a recipe that featured both cherry and earl grey, and it was one of my favorites ever! The combination of the floral and bitter notes from earl grey and the tart and sweet flavor in cherries makes for a fun and well-balanced dessert, so I wanted to bring that back again now that cherries are in peak season again! With this dessert, we are utilizing a similar technique to the hojicha sugar I have done in the past, but using earl grey tea leaves instead. By blitzing the tea and sugar down into a fine powder, it becomes a lot easier to incorporate into a bunch of different components! In this case, I infused the sugar into a pate sucre crust, a pastry cream, and an almond cream/frangipane. I also finished the tart off with fresh cherries, just to embrace the fact that they are in season, and to add some tartness to contrast the smoky, nutty, and salty that the rest of the components have.

With the different components, the Earl Grey sugar is the lynchpin, since it is used in virtually everything. In terms of things that would take time to do, definitely the pate sucre shell and the frangipane. You need to chill down the tart shell before even rolling it out, and then after you bake the tart shell, you need to bake it again with the frangipane in it. Frangipane is a cake-like cream that is made with eggs, butter, and almond meal, and it is highly popular in Italian desserts. I just love the pairing of cherry with almond, while the Earl Grey tea adds floral notes that perfume the cherries and balances out the sweetness in the dessert nicely. For the cherries, I glazed them with Kirsch liquor, but you can really use whatever you have on hand – vanilla or a tiny bit of almond extract work well as substitutes there! It is important to glaze the cherries, just since that glaze keeps them from drying out or going moldy, on top of adding a pleasant flavor to them.

For the Earl Grey sugar:
4 bags of Earl Grey tea
1 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

In a nonstick pan, toast off the tea leaves on low heat for 2 minutes – they should be really fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder and blend up with granulated sugar and salt into a fine dust. Store in an airtight container until time to use.

For the almond-milk tea pate sucre:
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup Earl Grey sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, diced and kept cold
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup cold milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, butter, and salt until combined into a fine powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk and vanilla, mixing together until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer into a tart pan that has been lined with butter and flour, pressing the dough against the tin to guarantee that it is shaped properly and remains a consistent thickness across the entire pan. Trim the excess dough and prick the dough with a fork. Then weigh it down with parchment and either baking weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then remove the parchment with the weights and bake for another 5 minutes. It’s okay if the very bottom is still blonde, as it will continue to bake with the frangipane.

For the frangipane:
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup Earl Grey sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup diced cherries

In a bowl, mix everything besides the cherries together first. Pour the mixture into the baked tart shell first, spreading it into a thin, even layer. Then press into the frangipane mixture the diced cherries. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, covering the edges of the tart with tin foil should they get too dark in the baking process. Allow the tart to cool down completely before attempting to unmold.

For the Earl Grey pastry cream:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup Earl Grey sugar
1/2 cup milk
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with cornstarch and Earl Grey sugar. In a pot, heat up the milk with salt. Pour half of the milk into the egg mixture while whisking until that is combined. Then pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the pot and whisk the two mixtures together on low heat for 2-3 minutes – the pastry cream should cling to the sides of the whisk. Take the mixture off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla first. Once both are incorporated into the pastry cream, pass the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps, and transfer to a bowl. Press the top surface of the pastry cream with cling wrap and allow the mixture to cool down before final assembly.

For the tea-infused cherries:
3 tbsp Earl Grey sugar
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt
1 tsp Kirsch liquor*
2 cups cherries, pitted

In a pot, reduce the tea sugar with the tea bag, water, and salt until the liquid is cooked down by about half. Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps or solids, and allow the syrup to fully cool down before adding in the Kirsch(if you are adding it!). Toss the cherries in the cooled down syrup.

To finish:
Remaining Earl Grey sugar

Start first by piping the pastry cream onto the cooled tart in a rectangular formation that is 1 inch away from the edges of the shell. Garnish the top and sides of the pastry cream with cherries. Finish with the sugar.

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