Cherry Tart / Torta di Amarena


All the cares and stresses that each day brings seem to evaporate once Italians step into their local pasticceria (pastry shop) and indulge in something sweet like a cornetto, baba àu rhum, or a slice of glistening torta di frutta.

And when they are invited to someone’s home for dinner, they bring cakes, tarts, or cookies from the pastry shop all beautifully wrapped and tied with a bow. I like to duplicate many of these sweets in my kitchen. Fruit tarts are a favorite, like this Amarena cherry tart. Amarena cherries are small, dark red, and slightly sour, and take their name from the word amare, which means “bitter”.

They grow around the cities of Bologna and Modena and are preserved in a sugar syrup, which makes them perfect for drizzling over a plain cake, or toping off a dish of vanilla ice cream. When ground to a paste and set in a sweet pastry crust, Amarena cherries make such a dense and intense-tasting tart that a mere sliver of a wedge will make you swoon. Amarena cherries are very expensive, so make this tart for a special occasion.

One export company, Fabbri, sells them in beautiful blue and white glass jars. These are available in Italian specialty stores or by mail order.


  • 2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons or more ice water
  • 3 cups (2 1/4 pounds ) drained Amarena cherries
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado (coarse brown) sugar


  1. To prepare the dough, in a bowl or food processor, mix the flour, salt, and sugar together. Work in the butter with a pastry blender or pulse it several times in the food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in the yolks and water, or add through the feed tube and pulse to blend, until a ball of dough is formed. If the dough seems dry, add a little more water. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. To prepare the filling, put the drained cherries in a food processor and pulse until a smooth, thick paste is obtained. Alternately use a blender. There should be about 3 1/4 cups of smooth cherry paste. The drained syrup can be saved to spoon over fresh fruit, ice cream, or sherbet.
  3. Lightly butter a 10 1/4 x 1-inch deep tart pan with a removable bottom. Set it aside. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough to a 14-inch circle. Lightly dust the top of the dough and fold it loosely into quarters. Lift the dough and position it in the tart pan with the point of the fold in the center of the pan. Carefully unfold the dough and fit it to the pan, trimming off the excess at the top edges. Any pastry dough scraps can be rerolled and used to line small tart pans for jam tarts.
  5. Spread the filling over the dough and set it aside.
  6. Roll the second piece of dough into a 12-inch circle. Use a pastry wheel to cut twelve 1/2-inch wide strips. Lay six of the strips vertically over the top of the filling, spacing them evenly. Lay the remaining strips horizontally over the first strips, spacing them evenly. Trim and pinch the ends to seal.
  7. Brush the strips with the milk and sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the top.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool the tart completely on a wire rack, remove the sides of the tart pan, then transfer the tart to a serving dish. Cut with a sharp knife into thin wedges and serve.
  9. Variation: Serve the tart with a little sweetened whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe was featured on Season 11 - Episode 1104.

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