These individual tarts look great as a display. Because they are small, we roll the pastry between two pieces of baking parchment to make it easier to handle. A good tip is to use little ‘bean bags’ made from lentils or rice wrapped in foil for the blind-baking; this makes sure the beans fit into the little pastry cases and are easy to remove afterwards. Serve with Toasted marzipan custard (see here); an absolute must! (It is a logical partner because of the almonds.) Don’t forget you can use any fruit which is in season instead of cherries; try raspberries, or even just Lemon curd (see here).
60g ground almonds
1 quantity sweet Basic shortcrust pastry (see here)
60g self-raising flour, plus more to dust
3 eggs, lightly beaten
125g sunflower oil
125g golden caster sugar
½ tsp almond extract
pinch of sea salt
75g ripe cherries, pitted and quartered
6 heaped tbsp cherry jam, preferably home-made
40g flaked almonds
icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3. Spread the ground almonds on a baking tray and toast for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them and turn them with a spatula every 5 minutes so they cook evenly and don’t scorch. Allow to cool.
Cut baking parchment into 12 x 14cm squares. Divide the pastry into 6 balls and roll each out between 2 of the squares.
Next, remove the top layer of parchment and place the pastry gently into a muffin mould, so the remaining baking parchment is on the bottom. Dip your fingertips into a little flour, then carefully press the pastry into the mould, leaving some overhanging the edge (you can trim it later if you want). Take the little ‘bean bags’ mentioned in the recipe introduction, place them in the cases and blind-bake for 15 minutes; the pastry edges should have started to brown.
Carefully remove the bean bags, then prick the pastry all over with a fork and return to the oven for a further 12–15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, keeping them in the muffin tray to maintain the shape.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, oil and caster sugar in a large mixing bowl (or use a food mixer fitted with the beater attachment), then add the flour, ground almonds, almond extract and salt. Lastly fold in the cherries.
Making sure your pastry cases are cool, spread 1 heaped tbsp of cherry jam in each, then divide the cake batter evenly between them. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the tops, then bake for 25–30 minutes, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the flaked almonds start to get too brown before the sponge is cooked, cover the tarts loosely with foil hats. Cook until firm.
Allow to cool in the moulds for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack. Once completely cool, trim the edges if necessary, or if you are feeling fussy. You can then dust them with icing sugar and serve in the baking parchment, or remove from the parchment and serve on plates with Toasted marzipan custard (see here).