Let my start off by apologizing again to anyone who can’t get their hands on tart cherries. This recipe is kind of a pain to make, if that makes you feel any better . . .
But if you can get tart cherries, then this is oh so good. And definitely worth all the trouble.
I came up with this recipe when I asked my friends if they had any requests for what I should post on my blog. They requested another apple crostata like the one the Barefoot Contessa makes. I served it for Thanksgiving one year, and they never forgot it. If you are looking for a really good apple pie for Thanksgiving, one that is absolute perfection, you ought to try her recipe.
Of course I couldn’t post her recipe here, so I thought about my huge bag of cherries taking over one-third of the real estate in my freezer, and knew I had to make some sort of cherry crostata. I added cranberries so that it wouldn’t seem out of place in the winter, and then some cream cheese to mellow out the tartness.
It has a streusel top, though I believe the cherries may have been a bit too wet to let the topping hold its shape. But I honestly don’t care. It was delicious anyway.
cranberry cherry cheese crostata
for the crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold butter
1/4 cup ice cold water (with no bits of ice)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
heavy cream or milk for glazing the crust
for the filling:
2 pounds (about 8 cups) frozen tart cherries, defrosted (or 3 14 ounce cans unsweetened tart cherries)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen)
2 cinnamon sticks (or a pinch of ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the streusel topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch ground cardamom (optional)
pinch ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To make the crust: In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter in small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Pulse a few times to break up the butter. When the butter is roughly chopped, and only a few big pieces remain, turn the food processor on and slowly pour in the ice water with the lemon juice. Turn off when the dough just starts to come together. If you can squeeze a handful of the dough in your hand and it holds its shape, then it’s done. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead a time or two to ensure the dough is completely combined, divide into two portions, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate.
2. To make the filling: Place cherries with juice (if you are using canned, use only a cup and a half of the juice) into a high-sided skillet. Add in 1/2 cup of sugar, lemon juice, cranberries, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer for ten minutes, or until the juice is reduced to about 1/3 of a cup. Scoop out a small amount of the juice (about a tablespoon), and put into a small bowl. Whisk in cornstarch, and add back into the cherry mixture. Stir the mixture and allow to simmer for a minute or two more until bright red and thickened. Pull off heat.
3. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until well incorporated and smooth.
4. To make the streusel topping, combine sugar, flour, salt, and spices. Add in cold butter and combine with your hands until well mixed and crumbly. Set aside.
5. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator, and on a well-floured surface, roll out each portion of dough into a rough 12 inch circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Place each round on parchment paper (not wax paper) lined baking sheets. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on one crust to make an 8 inch circle, and do the same with the other pie crust. Divide the cherry cranberry mixture between the two pies and spread on top of the cheese layers. Then top each with half of the streusel topping. Fold up the edge of the crust, all the way around to form a circle.
6. Brush edges of the crust with heavy cream and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake each pie (one at a time) on the center rack of the oven, for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.