I invariably choose crostata di visciole for dessert when out for dinner. Visciole...those delightful cherries that are sweet yet tart at the same time...are just what I love at the end of a delicious meal. Last night at dinner everyone elected to top their dessert with a scoop of gelato so I went with the flow. A wise choice: it was delicious!
So what exactly are visciole? They are wild cherries largely from the Marche region, located on the east coast of central to north Italy, and facing the Adriatic Sea. In the Marche visciole are usually cultivated to produce wine.
Visciole are the product of the prunus cerasus plant and are about half the size of consumer cherries. They yield a wonderful syrup and jam, which is often used to make crostate, or cherry tarts.
If you'd like to make a crostata yourself simply use your favorite buttery crust recipe for tarts and top it with visciole jam. I always top my crostata with a latticed crust as it's prettier. Italians then sprinkle their crostate with powdered sugar before serving.
You don't have to venture off to the Marche for visciole. These small, sour cherries also grow near Rome. Making the jam is simple:
Visciole (Sour Cherry) Jam
Visciole, pitted, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
Sugar, granulated, 200 grams (7 ounces or 1 cup)
Pectin, according to package instructions
Stir visciole, sugar and pectin together in a large, heavyweight pan.
Cook over a medium flame for about five minutes, stirring regularly, until the jam has begun to thicken. Jam will thicken further once it cools.
If desired, use a potato masher to break up the fruit while cooking. My texture preference is to leave some of the fruit whole.
The jam can now be ladled into sterilized jars for future consumption or used right away to prepare a crostata.