Monday, March 05, 2007

Black Forest Tart

Black Forest Cake was once the pinnacle of all desserts. Every restaurant worth eating at - or that wanted to look like it was worth eating at - had it on the menu. The cake is from, as you might suspect from the name, the Black Forest region of Germany, where it began as a cherry and liquor dessert before morphing into a cake. The cake itself has layers of chocolate cake with lots of whipped cream and cherries stacked between the layers. Some recipes will use rum or kirsch, but the important things are the chocolate, cream and cherries.
Combining these three things can turn anything into a "black forest." The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf coffee shop chain in LA, for example, makes a delicious ice blended coffee drink with maraschino cherries, chocolate and coffee called the Black Forest. Faced with a jar of perfectly preserved (in cherry juice) Morello cherries, I decided to make my own version of the Black Forest - in tart form.
I made a crust out of chocolate wafer cookies (you can use the ends of Oreos or similar cookies, with all the filling removed), filled it with a smooth cream cheese filling and topped it with the cherries. The dessert was so simple, yet it managed to seem perfectly balanced. It definitely falls into the comfort food category before the gourmet one, but that's not always a bad thing, right?
If you don't have cherries or other fruits are in season, go ahead and top the tart with strawberries, raspberries or some combination of other fruits for a chocolate fruit tart. Don't forget a little dollop of whipped cream on top of each piece!

Black Forest Tart
Chocolate Crust
1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, combine chocolate crumbs, sugar and butter and stir well. Pat into 9-in. pie plate.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until firm at the edges.
Cool completely.

8-ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tbsp kirsch

approx. 2 cups cherries, pitted (Morello or marischino) or other fruits
whipped cream

Combine cream cheese, sugar, cream and vanilla (or kirsch) in a medium bowl and beat until smooth. Spread evenly into cooled tart crust. Top with an even layer of fruit and a few dollops of whipped cream before serving.

Serves 8.