Pear Tarts with Caramel Sauce
- Almond Cream:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup super fine sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon Amaretto or almond extract
- 1 cup ground almonds (see note)
- 1 tablespoon allpurpose flour
- Caramel Sauce:
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 pound puff pastry
- 2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 sprigs mint
- Confectioners sugar, for serving
To make the almond cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, beat in well, and add the Amaretto. Stir in the ground almonds and flour until evenly mixed. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste.
To make the caramel sauce: In a small sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, butter and cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil vigorously for 2 minutes, remove from the heat. Cover and keep warm at the back of the stove.
To make the tarts: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 1/8 inch thickness and, using a plate or cardboard circle as a template, use a very sharp knife to cut four 7 inch circles. Spread a circle of almond cream in the center of each, leaving a 1inch border. Fan the sliced pears out from the center of each tart, completely covering the almond cream but still leaving the border. Beat the egg yolk lightly with a fork and brush the border of the pastry with it (try not to let any yolk dribble down onto the cut edges of the pastry, otherwise it will not rise as high). Bake the tarts for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden and the pastry is baked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes Place a sprig of mint in the center of each tart and sprinkle it with a little confectioners sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with the warm caramel sauce.
Note: to make ground almonds, freeze whole or sliced blanched almonds, then process them in a blender in short bursts, scraping down the sides as necessary, until they are evenly ground. Do not over process or allow them to get warm, otherwise they will turn into nut butter.
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