Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hunting Season Update...and Almond Pear and Almond Raspberry Tartlettes

If you read my earlier entry about biscotti, you might recall it’s hunting season up here in Vermont. Apparently that had been bow and arrow season, which I thought that was pretty bad. Unfortunately, it only gets worse from there.

This past weekend marked the beginning of rifle season. Lovely.

The other evening while eating a hot bowl of oatmeal for dinner, I noticed a pick-up truck slowly backing up on the road abutting my property. I then saw a man standing on the road by the truck, pointing a rifle towards the grassy area to the side of my house. I looked out the sunroom window to see a large group of deer right where his rifle was pointing.

Well, that’s not happening. I'm certainly not one for confrontation or getting in the way of men with guns, but there was no way I could sit there and allow this to happen. And what good are the police when they arrive after a deer has been killed? Heart pumping, I raced to the sunroom door. Standing on the step, I started banging the door nonstop until the deer ran back into the woods behind my house.

Huge victory for the deer and me!

That could have been the dumbest thing I ever did seeing as the hunter was standing there with a rifle. Luckily he promptly got back in his truck and drove away. Hopefully he realized he was lucky I didn't call the police seeing as he was breaking the law hunting on posted property.

Once I stopped shaking from all the excitement, I enjoyed an almond-pear tartlette left over from the Waterbury Winter market to celebrate my triumph over the hunter.

Of course, you can enjoy these tartlettes on any occasion. You can half the recipe and make less or double, triple, etc to feed a crowd. They’re delicious and beautiful, yet simple to bake.

Makes six 4 inch tartlettes.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 stick sweet butter, ice cold
1 egg yolk
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Raspberry Tartlettes:
1 cup whole blanched almonds
1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
Raspberries, of course!

Pear Tartlettes:
1 cup whole blanched almonds
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ pound unsalted butter
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Apricot jam
Canned pears – 2-3 cans

To make the pastry:

1. Sift the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and work into the flour mixture with your hands until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Pour this into the flour mixture and use your hands to thoroughly combine. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more heavy cream until the dough forms a ball.

3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-4 hours or overnight.

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to warm up for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll each out into a circle to fit the Tartlette pans. Be sure to press the dough down into the sides of the pan to avoid shrinkage during baking.

5. Place the prepared pastry shells into the fridge for roughly 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F (raspberry) or 375 F (pear). The raspberry tartlette shells are pre-baked before filling and baking again. The pear tartlette shells, however, are filled with jam, almond cream and pears before baking.

Almond Raspberry Tartlettes:

1. Line the chilled tart shells with aluminum foil and fill with baking beans. Bake the covered shells for 20 min. Remove the baking beans and foil and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, until the shells become golden brown.

2. While the shells cool, prepare the almond cream. Grind the almonds to a fine powder in a food processor. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixture then add the almonds and mix to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix again until combined.

3. Divide the almond cream evenly among the six tart shells and spread out in the shell. Arrange the raspberries in concentric circles on top of the almond cream. Sprinkle each tart generously with white sugar, then place in the oven for 40 minutes until the almond cream is golden brown.

Almond Pear Tartlettes:

1. Remove the chilled tart shells from the fridge. Spread a generous tablespoon of apricot jam on the bottom of each shell.

2. Prepare the almond cream. Grind the almonds in a food processor to a fine consistency then add the powdered sugar and mix. Next, add the ice cold butter in small chunks and mix until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Divide the almond cream evenly among the shells and spread over the jam, being sure to cover all jam. Cut the pears into thin slices and arrange on top, entirely covering the almond cream. Bake at 375 F for roughly 50 minutes until the pears and pastry are golden.

4. Brush the cooled pear tarts with heated apricot jam to give their surface a beautiful glisten.


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