Monday, February 18, 2019

Crostata di Ciliegie #ChefsSecret


This recipe is my interpretation of a pie mentioned in the new historical novel The Chef's Secret by Crystal King*. And I was excited to share it with her. The book was just released last week and my Crostata di Ciliegie appears in the digital companion cookbook. How fun is that?

This isn't a full review of the book, especially since I'm re-reading it this month and will do a more extensive post. So that will be coming soon. But I wanted to share this recipe and its inspiration.

On the Page

 “I began the day I was to dine at casa di Palone in the Vaticano kitchen, helping Antonio prepare the pope’s meals.…I suspected the pope would not touch the custardy dessert, but I felt compelled to take a chance. The worst that might happen was that he would order me to go back to his regular menu. At best, he would recognize the joy of food God gifted to us.…Antonio helped me bake a crostata to take the Palone house that evening. …The fragrance was magnificent. I hoped the famiglia Palone would find the pie tasted as good as it looked” (Chapter 11).

On the Plate

After I read that passage, I was daydreaming about cherry crostata, and I decided to create a version with frangipane and Amarena cherries with the top crust brushed with a hint of rosewater. The Amarena cherries, a variety of the Prunus cerasus developed by Gennaro Fabbri who was born in Bologna in the late 19th century, small, dark cherries grown near Bologna and Modena. Though Giovanni’s version is made with the Visciola—an indigenous, wild cherry—Amarenas were what I could find here in California! Because the cherries were bottled in syrup, I used very little sugar in the crust and added lemon juice to the frangipane to cut the sweetness. Rosewater, I’ve found, is a very polarizing ingredient; some people love it, others abhor it. So, I used it very sparingly.

Ingredients

Crust
• 2-1/2 C flour + more for rolling
• 1/2 C ground almonds
• 1/4 C powdered sugar
• pinch of salt
• 1 C butter
• 3 T water
• 3 T grappa (use whatever alcohol you want – vodka and gin work well – or more water.)
• Also needed: a tart pan with a removable bottom, silicone brush

Frangipane
• 1 C ground almonds
• 1/4 C dark brown sugar
• 1/2 C melted butter
• 2 large eggs
• 2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons because I have a tree in my yard. Use whatever lemons you have.)

To Finish
• Amarena cherries (I used two 7.4 oz jars from Trader Joe’s which are pitted but still have stems.)
• 1/2 t rosewater
• 1 T water
• Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving, optional

Procedure

Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the flour, ground almonds, powdered sugar, and salt together; rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Alternatively stir in water and grappa, if using, until the mixture forms a ball. Divide the ball into  thirds, then combine two of the balls so you end up with 1/3 of the dough for the top and 2/3 of the dough for the bottom. Wrap the smaller ball in plastic wrap and chill. Roll out the larger ball between two pieces of parchment paper. Press gently into a tart pan. Prick crust with a fork to prevent  bubbling.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350, or until a light golden brown. In the meantime, make the frangipane.

Frangipane
Mix everything together to form a paste. Once the tart crust is cooked, spread a layer of frangipane over the bottom. Bake for 20 minutes.

To Finish
Drain the Amarena cherries and remove their stems. Rinse briefly under cold water and let drain again while the frangipane bakes.

Press the cherries into the partially baked frangipane. Roll the second crust out between two pieces of parchment paper. Slice into ¾” wide strips. You can weave the lattice if you like. I simply overlap them to create a grid and press gently at the intersections. Trim any excess dough and press gently at the edge of the pan to attach the strips to the crostata base. Dilute the rosewater in 1 tbsp water and brush a light coating over dough strips.

Return to the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the crostata from the tart pan.


Slice and serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.


*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

2 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. Did you get an advanced copy? How exciting that she is showcasing your recipe. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Feast of Sorrow, as you know. I can't wait to pick up a copy of this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did. And now I have the actual copy! I love her stuff. Can't wait to hear what you think of this book.

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