In the Junkyard Tales: All Together Now story, “A Taste of the Wild”, it's a beautiful summer day, and Spiro decides to try something he has always wanted to do: taste a junebug grub. He knows that wild skunks who live in the forest and meadow eat grubs all the time, but he, himself, has never tried one. When he finally makes it to the meadow and tastes his first grub, he sets himself up to learn a valuable lesson about what it is to be wild.
While bugs are perfectly edible fare in some human cultures, when I want something wild I much prefer berries. If you know where to look, this is the time of year for mulberries, strawberries, and—one of my personal favorites—sour cherries.
In addition to finding a tree, the trick with sour cherries is that you have to beat the birds. The tart, crimson fruit is like a beacon to them, so you have to stop what you're doing and start picking the very first day you notice the cherries are ripe or you'll miss out. If the birds do beat you, though, don't despair. I've also had good luck finding sour cherries at our local farmer's market. Again, you usually have to get there early, but it's totally worth it.
Whether you find them in the wild or at a market, if you do track down some sour cherries, I strongly suggest you try a batch of these cherry tarts.
Combined with tangy, honey-sweetened goat cheese and a sprinkle of dark chocolate, these tarts look fancier than they are. And, by using mason jar lids as tart “pans” you avoid the need for extra kitchen gear. Easy, beautiful, delicious--in short, these sour cherry tarts are a pretty perfect early summer dessert!
Sour Cherry and Whipped Goat Cheese Tarts (makes 7-8 tarts)
2 pie crusts (store bought or homemade)
Cooking spray, olive oil, or butter (for greasing the tart “pans”)
1½ cups pitted, sour cherries
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 ounces goat cheese
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Next, roll out the pie dough to about ¼ inch thickness, then use an extra mason jar band to cut out circles. Go over the dough circles a few more times with a rolling pin to make them just a bit larger, then use your fingers to press the dough into the jar lid “pans” like a mini pie crust.
Use a fork to poke the center of the tart crust several times, then bake for 10-15 minutes.
Next, combine the goat cheese, cream, and honey, in the bowl of a mixer and whip together for several minutes.
Once the tart shells are completely cool and you're ready to serve them—don't put these together ahead of time or the crusts will get soggy—remove the shells from the jar lids and smooth a spoonful of whipped goat cheese in the center of each shell.
Top with a few spoonfuls of cherries, then sprinkle each tart with chopped dark chocolate and enjoy a taste of the wild!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.