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At the Chef’s Table: The tart has it all

Farmers market cherries mascarpone cream top off  this cherry buttermilk tart. (John J. Kim~Sun-Times)

Farmers market cherries and mascarpone cream top off this cherry buttermilk tart. (John J. Kim~Sun-Times)

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Updated: November 1, 2011 12:35PM

There is something to be said about the perfect tart. It has all the essentials: a crisp but buttery tender shell, a smooth custard filling, a topping of fresh fruit.

The key to a successful tart is having various textures and flavors playing into one bite. Tart shells are best made with a dough that you don’t overwork. When you add your cream, make sure you mix it until it just comes together, and no more!

Blind-baking your tart shell is equally important. If you underbake it, you will be left with a soggy mess; overbake it and your tart shell is too crispy. So be mindful: As soon as the inside of your tart is set and has a tinge of color, you are on the right track.

Filling the tart with the right amount of custard is another important step. Too much and it overflows, and not enough and your guests will be wondering where the custard is.

Despite the fact that a tart is a simple preparation, making sure that each element is done to the best of your ability will ensure that your tart reaches perfection.

Cherries just purchased from the farmers market would make a fine topping. If you are feeling adventurous, top it off with cherry champagne sorbet or mascarpone vanilla creme. The tart is a one-stop dessert that delivers all that one is looking for in any complex, plated dessert you would find at a restaurant. It also will impress your mother.

Amanda Rockman is the pastry chef at the Bristol, 2152 N. Damen.

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