Friday, April 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Almond Tarts

Salted Caramel Sauce might be my new favorite condiment.  We drizzled it over Flourless Chocolate Cake for Easter, and then I poured the leftover caramel into little mini pastry shells and baked these delicious tarts.

But let me backtrack a little to last week, when I visited my sister for a few days.  It had been a year and a half since I'd seen her, and it was so fun to get to spend time with her and my three beautiful nieces.  With all us girls in the house, my brother-in-law was definitely outnumbered!

One night we made chocolate cupcakes, a new recipe that Laura wanted to try, and while they didn't end up looking very pretty, they sure tasted good.  Everyone got to help mix and measure, except the baby of course.  Instead of frosting, we just topped them with a little whipped cream.  We also had a girls night with face masks and cucumber peels, ice cream, wine (which we drank from mason jars), and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Then the rain came, and it drizzled and poured throughout the day.  It's been a long time since I've seen it rain that hard.  We almost got some rain in Colorado yesterday - the skies were gray and overcast, and some menacing storm clouds hovered so close.  I was looking forward to a rainy night, snuggled on the couch with Jamie.  But it only lasted for about 5 minutes and then the clouds drifted away again.

On Sunday, we all hugged goodbye and I headed home.  As much as I knew I would miss them, I looked forward to sleeping in my own bed again and taking a shower without toys in the bathtub.  :)  And I missed Jamie after 5 days apart.  It was wonderful to come home to him, a clean house, red roses, and a delicious dinner of halibut with sauteed mushrooms, salad, white asparagus, and one of my favorite things to eat, steamed artichoke with aioli.

Since he was so sweet to make me such a nice dinner, I made something sweet for him on Wednesday.  There was a lot of drooling over the Salted Caramel Sauce in my Easter dessert post, and since I wasn't sure how long the leftover caramel would keep in the fridge, I decided to make mini caramel tarts so that not a drop of caramel would go to waste.

The simple buttery pastry was flaky and tender and the crunchy almonds added a delicious contrast to the hot caramel filling.  If I had pecans on hand, or bittersweet chocolate, I might have used those instead of the almonds, but really you can use whatever you have handy and whatever you like.

I sprinkled each tart with a little coarse sea salt, and with the salty, sweet, buttery, crunchy, creamy combination, these tarts were little bites of heaven.

Salted Caramel Almond Tarts
printable recipe

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 6 tablespoons Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or coarse salt

Note: Any type of nuts you would like to substitute for the almonds, such as hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans would work.  Chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips could also be used instead of the nuts for a salted caramel chocolate tart.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spray 4 individual tart shells with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Scatter the butter over the flour and cut in with a pastry cutter so that mixture is crumbly, but there are still visible pieces of butter remaining.  Add the water, a little at a time, working it in quickly with your hands, just until you're able to gather the dough together into a ball.  Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Press into the bottom and sides of the tart shells.

Divide the almonds between the tart shells, then pour the caramel sauce (warm it slightly if needed) over the almonds.

Bake for 25 minutes, just until the visible edges of the crust are pale golden.  Caramel will be bubbly and liquid, but will set up quickly as the tarts cool.  Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, or until caramel is set, then turn tarts out onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel and serve warm or room temperature. (Note: If you reheat the tarts later, do it carefully!  The caramel heats very quickly in the microwave.)

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen