Peppered Sour Cherry & Goat Cheese Tarts

Peppered Sour Cherry and Goat Cheese Tarts

I picked up my eldest son the other night because he had managed to turn himself upside down in bed and I needed to set him back on his pillow, tucked under the covers. Long gone is that big toddler boy that I had for a while and in his place is a gangly little boy who seems to be made up of long arms and legs. I have no desire for him to stop growing up because each stage in his life is something I look forward to. I do struggle to hold on to those moments and memories with my sweet little boy just like everyone does with their children and family.

We keep moving forward with the metaphorical seasons of life and the literal seasons of the year. Summer seems to be fast disappearing and each week seems to be marked by the reintroduction of one fruit or vegetable and the end of the season for another. I nearly missed sour cherry season while I went about my quietly busy life. Thankfully I have several sources for local produce and I was able to order what I needed before the sour cherries drifted away for the year.

Sour cherries have a short season of only two or three weeks here in Ontario. They are smaller than sweet cherries and have a slightly rubbery spring to them when you squeeze them gently. Aside from their size, one of the ways to tell sour cherries from the sweet varieties, without tasting them, is by their colour. They range in colour from bright red to a deep purple with a translucent quality to them, whereas the sweet cherries look opaque. This translucent quality is particularly noticeable with the bright red ones; they seem to have a glow to them if the light hits them just right.

Even if you haven’t seen fresh sour cherries in your farmers’ market, you will most likely be familiar with them because they are the cherries used in cherry pie filling. Growing up, this always came in a can and was used on that no-bake cheesecake that had cream cheese and Cool Whip on a graham cracker crust. You know the one. It is one of those desserts that I don’t make at home but if it is around, I eat more of it than is ladylike.

Sour cherry season is over for another year but I was able to stash a good amount of pitted sour cherries in my freezer to whip up pies or these appetizers. If you really want to try this recipe but don’t have any frozen sour cherries on hand, then it might work with canned cherry pie filling by adding a tsp of red wine, pepper, and fresh thyme to it. It won’t be the same as my recipe but I think it would be quite tasty.

I am moving well into peach season now with my gangly little boy and my baby boy who is barreling towards toddlerhood with his recent penchant for standing in his playpen. I think there are also growth spurts coming soon for both of my sweet boys. Swiftly forward we all go, don’t we?

Peppered Sour Cherry and Goat Cheese Tarts

Yields 24

Peppered Sour Cherry & Goat Cheese Tarts

15 minPrep Time

19 minCook Time

34 minTotal Time

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  • 2 pre-rolled sheets of store-bought puff pastry
  • 140 grams (one small package) goat cheese
  • 2 cups sour cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup cold water


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix the sour cherries with the red wine, sugar, pepper and thyme. Bring it to a boil.
  3. While the cherries come to a boil, mix the corn starch with the cold water. once the cherry mixture starts to boil, pour in the corn starch slurry and stir constantly as the cherries come back to the boil and the mixture thickens. Remove it from the heat and set it aside while you prepare the rest.
  4. Roll each sheet of puff pastry to approximately 12" by 10". It is important to roll the pastry a little bit even if the sheets you are using already fit this measurement. If you don't, the pastry will puff up quite a bit in the tins and your filling will go everywhere.
  5. Using a cookie cutter, cut out twelve circles from each sheet of puff pastry. If you don't have a large enough cookie cutter, then simply cut each sheet of pastry into twelve squares. If you plan on cutting the pastry into squares then you should roll the pastry into a square as best you can.
  6. Press the puff pastry into the wells of a mini tart pan or mini muffin tin.
  7. Cut the goat cheese into 24 evenly sized pieces. Keeping it in the fridge until you need it will help you cut the goat cheese. Place the pieces of goat cheese into each tart.
  8. Top the tarts with the cherry mixture. Each tart will get at least two cherries and some will get three. Spread the mixture out amongst the tarts as evenly as you can.
  9. Bake at 400 F for 17-19 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown at the edges.
  10. Let the tarts cool slightly in the pan and then remove them to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.



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    • says

      When I first made them my husband scooped some leftover filling out of the pot and was quite alarmed by the pepper. It works really well with the fresh thyme but I don't always add the thyme since I don't always have it around.
  1. says

    These look lovely. I'm embarrassed to say I've never bought a sour cherry before and didn't know the difference between the sour and sweet ones (aside from the whole sweet-sour thing, of course). How did that happen? Lol. And your reflections on childhood resonate with me -- my oldest is 4 and starting kindergarten in the fall. Where did the time go? She is also a gangly little thing; no longer my baby. And she has strong opinions about everything from what she wears to what she watches on TV. Aye.
    • says

      Thanks Sarah. Watching Tim in his sleep is still a nice connection to him being my baby. There is such softness to them when they are sleeping that isn't always there when they are full of personality, for better or worse, during the day. Before I saw them available to order fresh from my online farmers market sources, I'd only seen buckets of sour cherries in the fresh produce section at the grocery store around this time of year. I honestly don't know what lies within those buckets. Are they pitted? In a sticky syrup. I should check them out sometime.


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