Free-form Pear Tarts with Caramel Sauce

By Sam on 1 August 2013
I would like to say that I strive towards perfectionism, but actually I really don’t.  I very much like the idea of things being faultless, precise and altogether ideal.  I would in fact quite like all the things that I am responsible for to be exactly perfect.  But truthfully, the very notion of anything - let alone me - having to be perfect quite simply overwhelms me.
I am certainly no perfectionist when it comes to my home.  I love things to be neat and tidy.  I have even adopted the “everything has a place and a place for everything” mantra, but if you were to pop over right now, you would perhaps notice that the house is in need of paint, the bath plug is newly broken and there is still a slight brown mark where my son bounced his ball against the passage wall.  There is no perfection here.
In my office you will find a pile of magazines I have been meaning to put away for about three months now.  You will also see two prints which I bought on a recent trip away and which have still not made it to the framers.  If you take a closer look at my desk, you will notice a feint black pen mark from where “someone” drew a doodle.  There is no perfection to be found in here either. 
Sometimes I think that if my leanings toward perfectionism were more pronounced, oh alright if my leanings toward perfectionism were even barely noticeable, that I would be more accomplished, more organized, less forgetful, more together.  But then I wonder; if I were a perfectionist, would I be able to see the beauty in the many many things that are not quite perfect.  Like people.  Most people.  Actually, all people.  
Because I don’t look for perfect, but rather for beautiful, especially when it comes to the things I make, I absolutely delight in these free-form tarts.  They are all different because they are made by hand without a mould to guide the maker.  They are ill-matched, ever so slightly flawed and irregular pieces of art.  You might even say that they are imperfect perfection. 
Are you inclined to give them a try?  Go on, there is absolutely no pressure for them to be perfect.  Full recipe below.
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Place the pears in the center of the pastry circles.
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Use your hands to bring up the pastry around the pears.
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Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with castor sugar.
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Finsh with toasted almonds and dust with icing sugar.
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Serve with sticky caramel sauce and fresh cream.
Serves 8
Prep time 0hr15min
Total time 0hr40min plus resting time
Caramel Sauce
1 cup cream
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup butter
½  cup (125 g) butter, softened
¾  cup (90 g) icing sugar
1 egg
⅛ cup (30 g) ground almonds
2 cups (250 g) cake flour
2 x 410 g cans Rhodes Pear Halves, drained and evenly chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. castor sugar
⅝ cup (50 g) flaked almonds, toasted
Extra cream, whipped for serving
  1. To make the caramel sauce, place the cream, butter and brown sugar into a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring often and once all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is smooth.
  3. Set aside.
  4. To make the pastry, place the butter, icing sugar, egg and ground almonds in the bowl of a mixer.
  5. Beat with the k-beater attachment until light and smooth.
  6. Add the flour and continue to mix until the mixture comes together as a dough.
  7. Form the dough into a disk and wrap.
  8. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.
  9. Roll the pastry out to about ½ cm thick and use a small plate to cut 8 equal circles from the dough.
  10. Place the dough circles onto baking sheets lined with baking powder.
  11. Evenly divide the pear pieces between the eight circles, placing them into the center of the circle.
  12. Sprinkle with the cinnamon.  
  13. Fold the edges of the pastry up over the filling, leaving the middle exposed.
  14. Brush the pastry with the egg.
  15. Sprinkle with the castor sugar.
  16. Bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and firm to the touch.
  17. Sprinkle the tarts with the flaked almonds.
  18. Serve with the caramel sauce and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

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