Poached pears and almond paste make these sophisticated individual tartlets a delicious afternoon treat.
They also make an impressive dessert for a dinner party and they are a lot easier to make than they look.
PEAR AND ALMOND TARTLETS
3 pears, peeled
225 g golden caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
500 ml water
50 g butter, softened
1 medium egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 g ground almonds
500 g puff pastry
icing sugar to dust
Place 150 g sugar, lemon juice and the water in a saucepan large enough to accommodate all the pears. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Place the pears in the pan, cover with a disk of baking parchment and poach for15-20 minutes until just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
In a small bowl, beat the butter and remaining 75 g sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix well. Stir in the ground almonds.
On a floured board roll out the pastry to about 4 mm thick. Cut out six rounds about 2.5 cm wide and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
Put a heaped tablespoon of the almond mixture in the center of each round.
Slice the pears in half lengthways through the stalk and remove the core using a melon baller.
Slice thinly from the base to halfway up each pear to form a fan. Place a fan on top of each pastry round.
Bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden.
Allow to cool a little before dusting with the icing sugar. Serve immediately