Vanilla Cherry Tarts

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!My Dad came up to visit Robbie (and us) recently, and we had a great time just relaxing with Granddad on the back porch.  At some point, we got to talking about left brain vs. right brain careers.  My wife is an engineer, so she’s solidly in the left brain camp.  I’ve always enjoyed math, numbers and stats, and given the chance to do it all over, I might choose a left brain career.  But I do enjoy the right brain, creative side of things, too.  

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!I like to say that writing a food blog engages both sides of my brain as recipes usually need to be exact (left brain) while the photography and writing is on the more creative end of things.  But every once in a while, I need to go completely left brain with a recipe.  Like with these Butterflake Dinner Rolls.  I pulled the ruler out to measure squares of dough.  It might not be the same as Laura inventing a new metal…but measuring out squares of dough is pretty darn left brain!

Well, the left brain struck again with these Vanilla Cherry Tarts.  Yup, I had the ruler out.  And get this…I actually tested the measurements and folds with a piece of scrap paper first.  Yup, I had a test model for these tarts.  But the real thing tasted way better than the test model.  Trust me.

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!These Vanilla Cherry Tarts are essentially puff pastry shells filled with a layer of vanilla pastry cream and topped with a layer of cherry pie filling.  I stumbled across this recipe a couple of years ago when I was taking some baking courses at the local community college.  (That was back when I was toying with the idea of opening my own bakery.  Good thing I discovered the blog world instead…)

These tarts are delicious!  But what makes them really fun is their shape.  Sure, you could just use muffin tins or mini tart pans, and these Vanilla Cherry Tarts would work quite well.  But the diamond shape is unique.  I served these up for dessert, and the first thing everyone commented on was the unique shape.  It doesn’t take too long to create the diamond shapes, either.  But it does require a ruler…and your left brain.

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!Quick note about the cherries: I used frozen cherries that had already been pitted because, well, pitting 24 oz. of cherries didn’t seem like a lot of fun to me.  I’ve done it before, and it takes a surprisingly long time to pit cherries!  (I don’t mind doing it when eating them…but pitting enough cherries for a whole pie?  Ugh.  And I’ve even got one of those fancy cherry pitters…or ‘kitchen unitaskers’ as Laura calls it.)

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!Do you lean left-brain or right-brain?

What’s the best summer tart you’ve ever eaten?

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!

Vanilla Cherry Tarts

With layers of vanilla pastry cream and homemade cherry pie filling, these Vanilla Cherry Tarts make a great summer dessert!
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Refrigeration Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 tarts
Calories: 518kcal

Ingredients

For the Cherry Filling

  • 24 oz. frozen tart cherries thawed and drained (juice reserved)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ Tbsp lemon juice

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter room temperature

For the Tarts

  • 1 17.3 oz. box frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sparkling sugar
  • {optional} vanilla ice cream for serving

Instructions

For the Cherry Filling

  • Pour cherry juice into measuring cup. If necessary, add enough water to reach ⅔ cup of total liquid. (Note: It’s ok if the liquid is all water, but if you have cherry juice…use it for flavor!) Transfer liquid into a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together water and cornstarch. Once cherry juice begins to boil, stir in water/cornstarch mixture. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in sugar and lemon juice. Add cherries and stir until well combined. Place filling in refrigerator to chill.

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth and pale in color; set aside.
  • Using a medium saucepan, heat the milk (stirring occasionally) over medium heat until it just begins to simmer.
  • Slowly pour half of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously the entire time. Pour this egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. (Tip: Use a fine mesh strainer when you pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. This will ensure a smooth pastry cream later.)
  • Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and then continue cooking for 1 more minute, stirring constantly the entire time. Remove mixture from the heat, and add vanilla extract and butter; stir until fully combined and smooth. Set pastry cream aside to cool. (Note: The pastry cream will thicken quickly at this stage. It becomes somewhat difficult to stir, but keep stirring to prevent the cream from burning!)

For the Tarts

  • Working with one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll into a 10”x10” square. Cut square into (4) 5”x5” squares. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry. (Note: In total, this will create 8 smaller squares of dough.)
  • Working with one square at a time, fold the square into a triangle. With the folded edge of the triangle closest to you, make a cut ¼” in from both the left and right edges of the triangle. The cuts should run from the folded edge and stop ¼” from the top of the triangle.
  • Unfold pastry. There will be strips of dough on each side of square. Brush the tops of each of these strips with water. Carefully fold the left strip over so that it lays along the right edge of the square (see image in post). Repeat, folding the right strip over to the left edge. This will create a rimmed pastry square with a “knot” at both top and bottom. Place tarts on parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  • Using a fork, dock the center portion of the tarts every 2”.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together egg with 1 Tbsp water. Brush just the rimmed edges of the tarts with this egg wash. Sprinkle tops of edges with cinnamon and sparkling sugar.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spread the Pastry Cream evenly among the tarts. (Tip: If the pastry cream has cooled, you can use your fingers to spread it into the bottom of each tart.) Bake at 350°F for 13-14 minutes, or until edges of tarts have puffed up and are stable.
  • Remove tarts from oven and add generous scoop of chilled cherry filling. Continue baking at 350° for 28-30 minutes, or until edges of tarts are crisp.
  • Let cool slightly and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional) before serving.

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38 Comments

  1. I think that’s why I don’t bake and I leave that up to Dave, as I definitely fall in to the right brain section and I don’t like anything that needs to be exact.
    But, I could make an exception to make these, as I am cherry obsessed at the moment and these look just perfect.

    1. Haha…normally I’m very much a right-brained person in the kitchen. Whenever I get the flour out, it looks like a white powder bomb went off in my kitchen. 🙂 Give these bad boys a shot, Dannii…you could probably come up with another way to make ’em, but I just like that fun diamond shape! Cheers!

  2. This looks terrific. What an amazing combo. I love a puff pastry with vanilla and the additional cherry on top, yes please 🙂

  3. David! I could eat an entire batch of these pastries! I agree with you: pitting cherries the pits. I usually have good luck McGuyvering them with a paperclip. No kidding. But this year’s crop seem especially firm, and the clip trick doesn’t work well on them. Alas, there is no better cherry pitter than my mouth … but then I have to eat every cherry I pit (which is not such a bad fate, I’m thinking).

    1. I may or may not have eaten an entire batch of these pastries. (Ssshhh…our secret!) I don’t think I’ve ever tried the paperclip trick. We do have one of those little handheld cherry pitters, and I guess it makes the job easier. But it still takes forever. I’m with you on the mouth technique…but that doesn’t go over well when making these for company. Haha!

  4. Hi David! These remind me of high school because every day I would get a cherry turnover and a carton of milk from the bakery near school and that was my lunch! Your filling sounds really good, that stuff they call pie filling in cans is way to sweet for me, plus you can practically taste the preservatives! .

    1. No way! A cherry turnover and a carton of milk sounds like a great idea to me…no matter the time of day! Yes, I totally agree with you about the canned stuff. I hardly touch it. It doesn’t take that long to make the real deal, and it tastes SO much better. 🙂 Thanks, my friend!

  5. Opening a bakery might’ve been cool, but the hours are horrendous. Much better to blog! And then you can measure dimensions of pastry to your heart’s content. My brain SO does not work that way.
    The results are amazing, though. Pastry cream is the happiest!

    1. That’s what really got me, Mir. The hours. To have fresh homemade bread ready to sell in the morning, I would’ve had to go in to work in the middle of the night. #NoThankYouVeryMuch Plus, bakeries are notoriously difficult to make profitable. I like blogging MUCH better! Plus, I get to eat everything I make this way, too. That’s what I call a win-win! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Puja! I had a bunch of fun making these diamonds…and it’s such a unique shape for serving these tarts, too. 🙂

    1. Haha! If I didn’t pull out that ruler, there’s no way these diamonds would have happened. I like to think I could do it by hand, but yeah right…these “diamonds” would have been a mess! A delicious mess. But a mess nevertheless. 🙂

  6. Opening a bakery sounds kind of fun except I’m not much of an early riser. And I’m not sure I could stay out of all the cupcakes. I’m definitely more of a right brain/creative thinker with some logic abilities thrown in, but I don’t think I’ve ever used a ruler in the kitchen and not much of anywhere else since elementary school. Good job on the fancy pants perfectly measured triangle tarts. You can’t go wrong with a cherry and vanilla combo!

    1. That’s the thing. If we ran a bakery, we couldn’t eat all of the delicious things we made. And we’d have to wake up early. No bueno. But blogging from home? Bueno.

      And I’m not gonna lie…I had to go hunting for a ruler when I made these. I think it might be the ruler I used in grade school. Haha! 🙂

    1. Haha…well, the alternative would be to check my blog in the morning and then get struck by a sugar craving. Is that better? 🙂 I do love baking, but I have to give 99% of it all away to friends and coworkers and UPS delivery men. Otherwise I’d eat it all, and that just wouldn’t be pretty. Thanks so much, Nicole!!

  7. Okay, totally team right brain- I think. Can I be greedy and just pick the best bits of both? These tarts look delicious and I love the vanilla/cherry combination- Even better in tart form!

    PS- I actually have a cherry pitter, but haven’t used it just yet! ($16.99 a kilo).

    1. You can totally be greedy here, mate. Who am I to turn you away from this deliciousness? The cherry + vanilla combo is quite tasty…and the puff pastry is just a bonus. Wait, $16.99/kg for cherries? Holy cow. That’s probably more expensive than Vegemite AND the hat worn by Crocodile Dundee. 🙂

  8. David, the shape of these tarts is such a great idea. Unfortunately, even with the illustrations, my left part of the brain says it’s the way too complicated to me haha. I do like pastry cream, but almost all the time we get some pastries in the bakery, they’re quite mediocre. Bottom line: you should consider opening your bakery. At least, that would be the first decent I can trust. Well done – deliciously looking tarts!

    1. I totally agree! We do have a couple of bakeries in the area that make great pastries + breads…but more often than not, I’m pretty disappointed. I think I like the idea of working from home with the blog WAY more than I like the idea of opening a bakery. But it’s nice to know that I’d have at least one customer if I opened my doors. Heck, you know what? Just come knock on my door when you’re in the area. I’ll hook you up with all sorts of treats…and I wouldn’t have to open a bakery! 🙂

  9. My husband is an engineer and totally left brain! Too funny.
    I love that you had test models for this recipe. That is dedication right there! Great tip on using frozen cherries- I have no patience for pitting 😉 great recipe!!

    1. No way! What is it with these engineers married to food bloggers? I think we’re onto something here, Ashley. 🙂 Let’s do a research study on it. And by research study, I mean get together and make a lot of yummy food. Haha!

    1. Yeah, it took some patience to cut + fold the puff pastry tarts…no way did I have enough patience left to put those darn cherries, too. Haha! Thanks, Beverley!

    1. I’m right there with ya, Karen! Cherry pies/tarts/pastries all disappear quickly around here. And thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 I had fun making these tarts!

  10. I’ve always been in between when it comes to left brain vs right (which is probably why it was so hard to choose a career path!) You are so right that food blogging involves both sides. I’d be lost in my kitchen without my ruler! I love that you made a test model of these. The real thing looks so amazing (& I bet I still would’ve loved these if they were just freeform 😉 )

  11. Yes! I love that someone else keeps a ruler in their kitchen. 🙂 I felt like a dork making a test model of these tarts, but I needed to know how to fold that puff pastry! Thanks, Megan!

    1. Yes! You’ve already done most of the work, Celeste. That means you can have some tarts ready in no time at all. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great weekend so far!

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