There was a pastry shop in Rome, somewhere off the Piazza Navona, that often displayed a cherry tart in its window. It was improbably claret and basked in the honey-gold light of the dying afternoon. Lured as by the finest jewels, I walked into the shop one day and asked for a large piece, using my hands to mime the size. I ran out into the street and greedily bit into my prize. And then: utter disappointment.
The tart was all trickery. The cherries were trapped under a thick layer of flavorless gelatin, the cream filling was cornstarch-heavy, and the crust might as well have been cardboard.
With this recipe, I've tried to recreate the illusion of that Roman shop window, but with the substance the original lacked. The crust is shortbread crumbs and ground almonds, which are complemented by a sweet almond liqueur-flavored mascarpone filling.
The crowning touch: an Amaretto and cherry glaze that lightly coats a generous pile of fresh cherries.
About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blogs High Heels & Frijoles and Voracious Billy Goat. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite.