Almond-Polenta Tart with Caramelized Pears and Cherries
(Makes 12 to 16 servings)
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup polenta or finely ground cornmeal
- ½ cup caramelized almonds, plus more
- for garnish (see recipe below)
- Caramelized Almonds
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
Stir sugar, butter, and almonds constantly in heavy skillet until nuts are a light caramel color. Spread on greased cookie sheet to crisp and cool. When cool, break caramelized almonds (this will look like brickle) apart by placing in a plastic bag and rolling a rolling pin over it until you have crumbly chunks.
- 4 firm red pears
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh cherries
- 1½ cups crème fraîche or sour cream(for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Or you can use individual tartlet pans.
For Almond-Polenta Tart: Cream together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour and polenta, and mix just until blended. Scrape dough into prepared pan. Use floured fingers to press dough evenly into pan. Sprinkle center with caramelized almonds, pressing almonds into dough. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, and remove tart shell from pan.
For caramelized fruit: Peel pears, and cut each one into 12 wedges, discarding cores. Toss pears in lemon juice. Place sugar in a large skillet, and turn heat to high. Let sugar caramelize, supervising closely and swirling pan occasionally for even color. When the caramel is deep golden brown, add pears and cherries, and stir gently to coat. Cool slightly.
Cut tart into wedges and top each piece with caramelized fruit, a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream, and a sprinkle of almonds.