Cherry and Chocolate-Filled Mini-Heart Tarts

Take a bite. The small cup made of flaky pastry will melt in your mouth, leaving a hint of rich flavor only cream cheese and butter can deliver. The moist filling made of cherry and chocolate offers just enough sweetness to satisfy and just enough chocolate to make you want more.

I’ve used a a version of this dough made of cream cheese, butter and flour to make savory bite-size appetizers as well as rich, decadent desserts. In February, a month of chocolate and cherries, it only seemed fitting to make mini-heart tarts filled with a mixture of canned sweet cherries, dried cherries and almonds with a generous helping of semisweet chocolate.

The three-ingredient pastry needs a little chill time before it’s ready to form into little balls to pat into mini-muffin tins. As little as an hour should do the trick, but an overnight in the refrigerator doesn’t hurt.

Make the cherry filling well in advance. After it cooks for a few minutes to thicken, it needs plenty of time to cool completely before adding the chocolate.

A light sprinkling of streusel topping made of sugar, flour and butter adds a tiny bit of sweetness and crunch to each tempting little tart.

Cherry and Chocolate-Filled Mini Heart Tarts are just the right sweet treat for February. Just right anytime, really.

Disks of this dough can be stored in the freezer for a few months. Very convenient!

Cherry and Chocolate-Filled Mini-Heart Tarts

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pitted sweet cherries, drained
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels
  • Powdered sugar, for serving

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Add flour and beat on low speed until flour disappears and large crumbs form. Use your hands to gather up the dough. Form a ball. Cut the ball of dough into 4 equal pieces. Flatten each piece to form a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Put drained cherries and dried cherries into a food processor or heavy-duty blender. Process until mixture is quite smooth. Add almonds and process until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Transfer to a glass bowl. Allow to cool completely, then stir in chocolate morsels.Cover and refrigerate. The filling can be made a day or two before baking.

Make Topping by combining sugar, flour and butter. Rub together with fingers until crumbly. Set aside.

When it is time to make tarts, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take one disk of dough from refrigerator and allow to sit for a few minutes to warm up a little. Divide disk of dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Press into bottom and up sides of lightly greased mini-muffin pans.  Fill each pastry cup with cherry-and-chocolate filling. Sprinkle with Topping. Repeat with remaining disks of dough. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are just beginning to turn light brown.

Allow tarts to cool in pans for a few minutes. Use a knife to nudge tarts from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust liberally with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 4 dozen mini-tarts.

*I used heart-shaped mini-muffin tins to make these tarts. Regular mini-muffin pans work just as well.

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