Cherry Cheese Tort
This was not like any cherry tort I have ever seen or eaten, but it came from the medieval food recipes at godecookery.com, so that is to be expected. It tasted like something you would be served by a Tuscan farm woman if you happened to pop in for an afternoon visit. A house and dish similar to those described by Frances Mayes in her Tuscany books, of which I am currently, hopelessly obsessed.
I imagine that the kitchen of my Tuscan farm woman’s cottage would be rustic with a stone floor. Raw wood beams would hold up the loft above and, in my mind, a faded fresco would adorn the wall in the adjoining room. Bountiful lavender shrubs, bursting with purple stems of fragrant buds, would line the stone path that leads from the open kitchen door to where a lush garden and olive tree-lined terrace lavish in the dry heat. The room temperature tort, sitting on a wooden board under a sunny, unshuttered window, would be waiting to be served to anyone stopping by. I wish it were me!
Ours was dessert for the medieval feast along with Celtic Shortbread and Daryoles, but became breakfast several days in a row until its ceramic pie plate was empty. Perfect for grabbing on the run a sliver at a time the week I was renovating our breakfast room.
I changed the recipe a bit, substituting candied orange peel for the crystallized ginger. Crystallized ginger was $12 for a few ounces, candied orange peel only around $3 for about the same amount. We were all wishing, however, that we had used the ginger. Next time.
I also used fresh cherries rather than canned. Chilean just happened to be available at the time, though ridiculously expensive. I bought them, knowing from experience that we would get a lot more out of them for the money than we would cans of dark cherries which I buy every fall for my husband’s birthday Black Forest Cherry Cake. It was so odd to find myself in late January nibbling bing cherries as dark, sweet, and plump as the Washington cherries we buy every July when the stores are loaded with them, identical to the ones we used to buy from roadside stands when we lived in that state. Such a treat and worth every penny!
I used the crust recipe that was provided with the original tort recipe, which made enough dough for both this dish and for the strawberry tart we also made for the feast. The recipe that follows is enough for just one tort.
I forgot when I was buying the ingredients to cut the recipe down, so had extra ricotta in the house. Not a bad goof. I was able to get two more dinners out of what was left in the fridge. Leftover marsala wine that was used in a few of the medieval dishes meant Chicken Marsala for dinner one night, of course. Still have half a bottle. Hubby and I were sipping it with fresh strawberries for a couple of nights, but then we ran out of strawberries. I guess I’ll have to push up my sleeves and figure out what to do with the rest. Ideas are welcome!
1 1/8 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 c. raw sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 T butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 an egg, slightly beaten (For half the original recipe. Beat it then measure and divide in two.)
1/8 c. marsala wine
2 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. raw sugar
1 big egg– my chickens lay very big eggs and my duck’s eggs are even bigger. Maybe a regular large store-bought egg with the half that was left over from making the crust would do it.
1 T minced candied orange peel, or crystallized ginger as the original recipe states if your budget allows.
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 c. fresh, pitted Bing cherries
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
Make the crust. I dump all of my ingredients but the liquid in the bowl of a food processor most of the time when I make pie crust. Cut in the butter to the other ingredients, then drizzle in the water, or wine in this case, while blending until the dough comes together. You can knead it a little on a lightly floured surface until the granules, which are actually small dough balls, come together, then you can roll it as usual.
Shape into a circle and line a pie plate with the dough. Turn the edges under and crimp them to form a fluted edge.
Makes a 9″ pie crust.
To make filling, mix together the cheeses and sugar. Beat in the egg.
Stir in spices and candied orange peel or ginger.
Spoon into the pie shell.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until center is set. Mine took over an hour to set. Chill and serve.