The French take their cherries seriously. When it's Le Temps de Cerises, or "cherry time"—the name is the title of an 1866 Paris Commune song—the declaration shows up everywhere, even in fashion. If you love cherries, there's no time like Le Temps des Cerises to find cherry-dotted scarves, skirts, shirts, ties, dresses, and even cherry pom-poms for your hair. And, of course, there are cherries in the market—but the season is short.
One June my husband, Michael, and I were in Alsace, where cherries—red and sweet, sweet and sour—are abundant. The day we arrived, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought big, fat red cherries and lovely pink and cream Rainiers (like Queen Anne cherries). They were the best we had ever tasted. The next day we drove around trying to find the stand again, and when we did, the Rainiers were gone. Not sold out. Gone. And it seemed to be the end of their run everywhere in Alsace.
When we got back to Paris, there were no Rainiers, but there were plenty of chubby red cherries that I turned into this tart, which has an almond cream based flavored with Alsace's favorite eau-de-vie, kirsch. And, since Alsace is the land of streusel, I finished the tart with a crumb topping. The tart was so good—and Michael loved it so much—that I made it again and again, until the market was out of cherries and it was le temps for peaches.
A word on the cherries: I like to make the tart with whole pitted cherries. I love the look of the full rounds. Instead of using a cherry pitter, you can pit the cherries with a chopstick—just push it straight through the fruit. Or use halved cherries, pitting them after you halve them.
And a word on shape: If you'd like to make a square tart, use a 9- to 9 1/2-inch square pan with a removable bottom. The proportions of filling and topping are the same for both square and round tarts.
Storing: I think this tart is best served at room temperature on the day it is made, but my husband disagrees. As much as he likes it just made, he really likes it after it's spent a night in the refrigerator. He's not wrong about the chill—the chart is very good cold. So, if you'd like, you can keep it covered in the fridge for up to 1 day.
Reprinted from Baking Chez Moi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014). —Dorie Greenspan