This yummy and simple cherry bourbon crostata was conjured up after a friend asked my son and I to go cherry picking with them. What?! Cherry picking in Colorado? Where there are exactly 2 fruit orchards on the Front Range (not exactly, but it seems like it) and we are almost always in a drought? I've mentioned in this blog post my fondness for apple orchards and the many memories I have as a child in Illinois piling dozens of freshly picked apples into baskets so it was a resounding yes to check out this cherry orchard.
We arrived to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, CO for our 9am cherry picking reservation. They do require reservations to make sure the cherries don't get over picked and control the amount of people on the farm. A lovely gentleman met us at the entrance to the orchard, handed out the pints to place the cherries in and sent us off to pick as many as we wanted. With 3 toddlers in tow, we set out. While not a relaxing outing, trying to keep the boys from eating the cherries with pits or pulling down branches, it was still a great time. Finn got his fill of picking some of the cherries off the trees and even enjoyed eating the tart cherries once we pitted a few of them.
I definitely recommend a trip to the farm if you get a chance as they have blackberries, strawberries, melons, veggies and even flowers during the various seasons. Now on to the recipe! Bourbon and cherry is a pretty classic combination. Both Manhattans and Old Fashioneds feature a cherry as the finishing touch, so I thought a free form pie like a crostata would make a good vessel for these ingredients. A crostata starts with a simple homemade pie crust, various fillings piled on top and then the edges get folded up around the filling. Much easier than a pie, a crostata is its rustic cousin without the fuss.
Since these cherries are tart cherries, they require a bit more sugar than normal. After pitting them with a cherry pitter, I wouldn't ever do it by hand again. Unfortunately, the one I have isn't for sale anymore but this cherry pitter does the same job. They get combined with the sugar, vanilla, bourbon and cornstarch. The dough comes together quickly with the use of a food processor and only needs a 30-minute rest in the fridge before rolling out into a large circle. The cherries are piled onto the dough and the edges of the dough are folded up over the cherries. Dot with some butter (because everything is better with butter) and place in the oven until bubbly and golden brown. Top with some whipped and sweetened mascarpone cream and enjoy. Simple!
Cherry Bourbon Crostata with Whipped Mascarpone
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces
- 3-4 tbsp ice cold water
- 3 cups tart cherries fresh, pitted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
To prepare the crust
- In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the crumbs are about the size of a pea. With the processor running, add 3 tbsp ice cold water and process until the dough starts to come together into a ball. Add an additional tbsp of water if dough isn't coming together.
- Dump the dough onto a floured surface and using your hands, bring together into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
To prepare the crostata
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and then place a piece of parchment on top of foil.
- Combine the cherries, sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Mix gently to combine.
- Roll out the dough onto a floured surface to a circle about ¼ inch thick and 14 inches in diameter. Place the crust onto the baking sheet.
- Pour the filling onto the crust, leaving about 2 inches at the edge. Fold the edge of the crust up over the cherries all the way around the crostata, pleating the dough as necessary to form a circle. Place in the preheated over and bake until the filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.
- Combine mascarpone, whipping cream and powdered sugar in a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer and mix until soft peaks form. Serve on top of the crostata.
- The baking sheet is lined with foil and then parchment due to the cherry juices leaking out while baking. This will make clean up easier-trust me!
- If you can't find tart cherries, sweet cherries can be substituted but you may want to decrease the sugar by about half to account for the extra sweetness of the cherries.
- Bourbon can be omitted if desired. Orange juice would be a good substitute or you can leave it out entirely.
- Vanilla ice cream would be a great substitute for the mascarpone if desired.