Dessert for Your Holiday Dinner: Apple and Dried Cherry Tart

Apple pie gets a lot of glory this time of year, due to the holiday season. While I love a good deep-dish apple pie, sometimes I want a simple tart that is a delicious and delicate alternative. 

This tart not only takes advantage of apple season but it pairs them with dried cherries for a slightly chewy bite. The cherries add a nice pop of color, a little sweetness and a hint of tartness, which complement the apples well. 

When choosing apples for a tart (or a pie, for that matter), I like to use a combination of varieties to get a balance of texture and sweetness. Some apple varieties — Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Gala, and Braeburn — hold up well after cooking. Other varieties, like McIntosh, are sweet but break down easily when cooked. For this particular tart, I used two large Honeycrisps and three small McIntosh apples, but you can use any combination you see fit. 

When it comes to the crust, a tart pastry doesn't need to be flaky like a pie crust. It needs to be sturdier — able to hold up well after being baked. The crust can be made ahead of time and stored for up to two days in the refrigerator or up to one month in the freezer. 

This tart will be a welcome addition to any holiday dessert table and will stand proud next to any pie. Serve it slightly warm, with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, and it will be a delectable dessert.

Apple and Dried Cherry Tart

Recipe developed by Marcy Gaston, MS

Makes one 11-inch tart; serves 8

Tart pastry:
¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tart filling:
2 large Honeycrisp apples (or 2-3 Braeburn or Gala apples), peeled and sliced
3 small McIntosh apples (or Jonathan apples), peeled and sliced
¾ cup dried cherries
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Special equipment:
One 11-inch tart pan with removable ring


Make the tart pastry

  1. In a food processor, combine all the flours, sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk, water and vanilla. With the motor running, add the wet mixture in a steady stream until the pastry forms into a ball around the blade. If the mixture seems too dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon or so of water until it comes together.
  2. Press the pastry dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to rolling out. The pastry can be made ahead of time and kept for up to two days in the refrigerator or for up to one month in the freezer. If freezing the dough, thaw for one day in the refrigerator.

Make the filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a bowl, combine the apples, cherries and walnuts. Add the orange juice and honey; toss to combine well. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the apples and toss to combine well. Set aside while you roll out the tart dough.
  3. Roll the tart pastry out on a well-floured surface. Carefully place the pastry into the tart pan and tuck it into the pan, pressing it slightly against the sides of the pan. Cut off excess dough that hangs over the edge of the pan. If the pastry dough breaks while you are working with it, just repair it with scraps of dough.
  4. Fill the tart pastry with the apple mixture and dot the top with the 2 tablespoons of butter.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature before serving.
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Marcy Gaston
Marcy Gaston, MS, RD, LN, is Assistant Teaching Professor of Hospitality Management at Montana State University in Bozeman. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.