We had a house full of friends and family for dinner Friday. In honor of Presidents' Day (and what was already in the cupboard) I made our beloved Cherry Tart for dessert. Actually I made two. True to my current obsession with Instagram, I documented the making with posted photos. Here is an improved version of that effort with a real recipe too. You can also find it in our Winter craft book with Mary Engelbreit and Barbara Martin. Just in case you have that already, it's there.
And now it's here too. Easy, forgiving (if pie crust scares you) and memorably delicious! The tricky part is finding the canned cherries. Not the canned cherry pie filling, these cherries are red tart cherries packed in water. They're pricey, but make all the difference. When I first started making this twenty years ago, there was a brand called Raggedy Ann Cherries. Cutest tin can ever. Now I use this Oregon brand from the chain supermarket (still a cute can and a good product). If you can't find them, try another fresh fruit like apples, blueberries, strawberries or peaches.
Use a pastry blender (or two knives) to mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons cold butter, 4 tablespoons shortening until the butter is broken into pea-sized bits. Add 4 tablespoons ice-cold water. Use a fork to draw it together into a ball. Chill. (Honestly, I often skip the chilling and it still works.)
Gently transfer the pastry to a cookie sheet or pie pan. If it breaks apart, just push it back together. Better to have it be sloppy rather than overworked perfection because pastry gets tough when it's handled too much. Place the drained cherries in the center. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring and fold the pastry up around the filling. The center will be uncovered. I sprinkle a little bit more sugar over all before it goes into the oven at 425 for 35 to 40 minutes until lightly brown. Serves 4 or 5. They'll want seconds and some for breakfast too, so if you're up to it, consider making two.