I met Brent at Oktoberfest. Not in Munich, but a similar festival in Kitchener-Waterloo known as Canada's Greatest Bavarian Festival. There was a lot of beer drinking, chicken dancing, and pretzel eating. To be honest, I was basically drunk for 3 days (which is not the story I will tell my children on how I met their father). It is actually quite surprising that I was able to make such an impression in that state. Brent dazzled me with his bright smile, good looks, and intellect - he is much more put together than I am when he drinks. I was serious about this guy in a major way, until he told me that he was moving to Seattle. And then I was like - what the? I reluctantly spent the next few weeks getting to know him, and then his family, and then I was basically a mess because I loved him and he was leaving. He left, and I cried, and then got stupidly drunk and repeatedly called him at 1:00 am, luckily because of the time difference it was only 11:00 pm his time. I then cried some more, and drank some more.
After many months of stress and uncertainty, I decided to fly out to Seattle during my Christmas break. It was a serious move on both our parts, but during that visit we had so much fun, and by the end of the trip, I knew that I wanted to be with this guy, because for him, good food was important, travel was necessary, and fun was a must, and that was basically my list of good man-criteria fulfilled. Once I finished school, I packed everything that was important to me (red lipstick, flat-iron, one pair of cute heels, and a pair of skinny jeans ) into a suitcase and gave the rest away. I knew that this would be my last time living at home and that I probably wouldn't be coming back. Everyone thought I was crazy, and I really wasn't sure what I was doing myself. I just wanted to be with Brent, and I really couldn't see beyond that. After two weeks of being in Seattle, I had a nervous breakdown and took a bus to Kelowna BC to move in with my best friend. True story.
I think everything just happened way too fast. I wasn't prepared for the city, nor Mr. H. He understood, or so he said, but probably remained slightly skeptical of my mental state. He promised to come and visit me every other weekend, and lived up to that promise. We spent our weekends in the Okanagan Valley getting to know each other, surrounded by rows and rows of cherry trees, for miles - pretty good scenery. The west coast cherry scene was new to us, so quickly, one of our favorite past times became picking cherries. We would pay ten dollars, climb trees, and grab as many cherries that would fill our wicker basket, while trying to not lose our shit when giant bugs fell on our arms - we both share the same distaste for insects. That summer we tried every variety, until I ate too many in one sitting on a hot summer day, and if you have been in a similar situation, I don't need to further explain, but for those of you who have not been blessed with the laxative effects of cherries, you've been warned. We no longer spent our weekends eating an endless supply of cherries, instead, we turned to peaches.
Eventually we moved to Victoria BC together, got married, had a few fights along the way, but here we are today, 7 years later. Each season, when cherries start making their way into the markets, I am reminded of that summer in the Okanagan, my time with Mr. H. How little I knew about him then, and how much I know about him now. Last week I was inspired to make something sweet and with cherries, because I was in a particularly good mood, and wanted to show my love through food. I have a deep affection for small tarts and chocolate. Stella, who writes for the blog Brave Tart is an amazing pastry chef, and I am always so inspired by her creations. I decided to modify her chocolate tart recipe slightly, by adding some coconut oil. I was quite pleased with the flavor, just the right amount of coconut-ness. I filled the tarts with a basic chocolate ganache filling. I arranged the fresh cherries on top, stems and pits intact. You could always remove them, for a hassle-free eating experience. I mostly did it for the pictures, because they look so darn cute.
So to sums things up, there are a few take-home messages from this post. 1 - If you find someone who inspires you to be a better person, who makes you feel good, whom you want to spend all of your time with, stalking is totally acceptable, late-night drunken phone calls are totally acceptable. and following them across the country is also acceptable, as long as you remain confident in your decision. It's when you let doubt creep in, that you find yourself in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but cherry trees. 2 - No matter how hungry you are, or how delicious they look, do not eat more than a cup of cherries at one sitting. You will be wildly disappointed with the outcome. 3 - If you haven't already, you need to, at one point in your life, attend an Oktoberfest and participate in the chicken dance. It's a must.
CHOCOLATE CHERRY TARTS
makes 8 small 4" tarts
tart shells adapted from Brave Tart
4 oz butter, room temperature
1 oz coconut oil
3.75 oz granulated sugar
1.25 oz brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 vanilla bean
2 egg yolks
9 oz all purpose flour, sifted
1 .75 oz cocoa, sifted
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 oz butter, softened
15 fl oz heavy whipping cream
1 lb cherries, washed
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease 8 - 4" tart shells lightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, coconut oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and scrapings from half a vanilla bean. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time. Turn the speed to low, add the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Mix until all of the ingredients have come together.
Turn the dough onto the counter. Knead together with your hands into a ball. Divide the dough into eight sections. With your fingers, press the dough into the 4"tart shells, starting with the base and then pressing up the sides. Trim away the extra with a knife. Prick the base of the shells with a fork. Place the tart shells onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and press down the base of the shells with a fork, if they have puffed up. Set to the side and let completely cool.
Once the tarts have cooled, gently pop them out of their molds by squeezing the edges lightly and then pushing up from the bottom of the mold, or tap gently on the bottom of the mold. They should pop out with no fuss. If you are having difficulty, try using a tooth pick to pry them out. Set to the side.
Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter into a large bowl. Heat the whipping cream on medium heat until it begins to bubble. Pour the cream into the bowl with the chocolate and stir with a wire whisk until combined. Pour the chocolate filling into each tart shell 1/8 inch from the top. Place the tarts into the fridge for 30 minutes to cool. Once the filling has set, arrange the cherries on top. Place the tarts back into the fridge until you are ready to serve. Can be kept in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.